Friday, March 31, 2017

Missouri Boating Laws Refresher

Boating season is just around the corner and soon the Lake of the Ozarks will busy with boats. For your own safety and the safety of others, it's important that you follow the laws in place in Missouri. Whether you're new to boating on Missouri waters or you just need a refresher, today's blog from Summerset Boat Lifts offers a few of the important laws to keep in mind this boating season.

Missouri Boating Laws 

1. If you were born after January 1, 1984, you need to take the Missouri Boating Education course before operating a vessel on any Missouri lake. There is no minimum age requirement to take this online course, and you do not have to be a resident of Missouri to take this online course. Boating education is currently required in several U.S. States and Canadian provinces.

2. The Boater Education Card law only applies to Missouri lakes. It currently excludes rivers, streams and private waters. However, for your own safety, it is recommended that you take a boater education course prior to operating any vessel on the water. 

3. To legally operate a motorboat or PWC in Missouri, you must be at least 14 years of age. If you are not 14 years of age or older, you must be under the direct, onboard supervision of a parent, guardian or other person 16 years of age or older.

4. Vessel operators who are required to have a Boater Education Card (born after January 1, 1984) must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by an enforcement officer. Not carrying the card can result in a fine.

5. To legally operate your vessel on public waters in Missouri, you must register and title your vessel. You must obtain a Missouri Certificate of Number and validation decals. Exceptions to this law include non-motorized vessels, sailboats 12 feet or less in length, vessels registered in other states using Missouri waters for 60 consecutive days or less.

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6. According to Missouri law, all vessels 16 feet in length or longer must carry one wearable U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD, personal flotation device (life jacket) for each person on board or being towed. Vessels less than 16 feet in length must carry one wearable OR throwable PFD for each person. They must also be readily accessible. Under federal law, however, a wearable PFD is required for each person on board regardless of vessel length.

7. Children under the age of 7 must WEAR a life jacket at all times while on board any vessel, unless the child is confined in a totally enclosed area of the vessel, such as the cabin area of a houseboat or day cruiser. Each person riding a PWC must wear a life jacket as well, no matter the age.

8. Between sunset and sunrise, as well as during periods of restricted visibility, you must display required navigation lights. Motorboats when underway must have red and green sidelights visible from a disatance of at least one mile away on a dark, clear night. An all-round white light or both a masthead light and a sternlight must be visible at least two miles away from all directions in a 360-degree circle. Unpowered vessels must have red and green side lights and a stern light visible from two miles away. If the unpowered vessel is less than 23 feet and those lights are not practical, you should have on hand at least one lantern or flashlight shining a white light. All vessels are required to use a white light visible from all directions when they are anchored or moored away from the dock.

9. All vessels are required to have a Type B U.S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher on board if one or more of the following conditions exist:
  • flammable or combustible materials are stored on board in closed storage compartments
  • the vessel has closed living spaces
  • there are permanently installed fuel tanks 
  • flammable or toxic fluids are on board 
The fire extinguisher should be placed in an accessible area, not near the engine or in a compartment. 

10. All vessels operating on Missouri state waters that are more than 16 feet but less than 40 feet in length are required to carry on board a whistle or horn to make an efficient sound to signal intentions or positions. Vessels that are 40 feet or more in length are required to carry on board a whistle or horn AND a bell.

11. State law requires that scuba divers or snorkelers display the diver-down flag to mark the diving area. Divers must stay within a 50-yard radius of the flag. Vessel operators must mot operate within 50 yards of a displayed diver-down flag. A "skier-down" flag is required equipment for a motorboat (other than a PWC) towing a person behind on water skis, an inner tube, sled or similar device. The flag is to be displayed when the person is in the water before or after being towed, or when the swimmer leaves the confines of the vessel. Displaying the flag is required from 11 am to sunset and if effective on the Mississippi River and Missouri River, as well as all Missouri lakes.

12. Missouri law designates the following dangerous operating practices as illegal:
  • Reckless operation, including but not limited to, boating in restricted areas, disregard for posted speeds, ignoring wake restrictions, ignoring diver-down flags, boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and chasing, harassing or disturbing wildlife with your vessel. 
  • Overloading a vessel beyond the recommended capacity shown on the capacity plate installed by the vessel manufacturer. 
  • Allowing passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs, seats on raised decks or any other place where there may be a chance of falling overboard is prohibited unless the vessel has adequate guards or a railing. 

13. Missouri law prohibits the discharge of any sewage, treated or untreated, into the state's freshwaters. It is also illegal to dump refuse, garbage or plastics into federally controlled and state waters. 

This is not a complete list of the boating laws enforced in Missouri. For more information on Missouri Boating Laws, please visit:

Summerset Boat Lifts hopes you have a safe and fun boating season! For all your Lake of the Ozarks boat lifts needs, keep us in mind. Our new lift sales are complimented by pre-owned sales and servicing of many different brands of lifts. Need a boat lift or have a problem with your current one? Give the best boat lift company at the Lake of the Ozarks a call at 573-348-5073.

1165 Jeffries Road Osage Beach, MO  65065
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