Don't take a wrong tack when boating - put safety first

Image: Life preserver

MAY 29, 2007

Secretary Land, boating officials urge watercraft owners to be prepared

To maximize the enjoyment of their boats, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and boating industry representatives are encouraging watercraft owners to think safety first when on the water.

"One of the simplest things boaters can do to ensure their safety is to wear a life jacket," said Land, who oversees the state's nearly 953,000 watercraft registrations. "Drowning accounts for about 70 percent of all boating fatalities. Wearing a life jacket can be the difference between life and death."

Van Snider, Michigan Boating Industries Association president, added that there are several resources available to watercraft owners to help them better prepare for a safe boating season.

"Enrolling in a boating safety course is probably the most important step you can take to protect yourself and your boat," Snider said. "You'll learn the skills necessary to be a safe and knowledgeable boater. Courses are available through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, some county sheriff's offices, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadron. Boat dealerships, marinas, community schools and colleges also offer instruction."

Residents interested in taking a boating safety course should check with the following sources for more information:

  • U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at, (800) 336-BOAT; (336-2628 for the BoatU.S. boating safety course hot line.)
  • U.S. Power Squadron at
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources at
  • County Sheriff's Office.
  • Community schools and colleges.
  • Marinas and boat dealers.

With the popularity of personal watercraft on Michigan waters, Land added that operators must carry their boating safety certificate and display it if asked by a peace officer. To operate a personal watercraft in Michigan the following requirements apply:

  • Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1978 cannot operate a personal watercraft unless they obtain a boating safety certificate.
  • You must be at least 14 years to operate a personal watercraft.
  • Children ages 12 and 13 may operate a personal watercraft if:
    • They are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
    • The child and adult both have a boating safety certificate.
    • The personal watercraft is equipped with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch that is attached to the adult.

The Department of State provides a safe boating booklet through its branch offices. The guide is free and has information about boating basics, laws and safety.

The Michigan Boating Industries Association is a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the promotion, protection and advancement of the recreational boating industry. For more information, visit

For more information about personal watercraft, watercraft registration or other Department of State services, visit