Defining Personal Watercraft
A personal watercraft (sometimes called PWC or by brand names such as Jet Ski, Wave Runner, Sea Doo, etc.) is defined by law as:
◦ a motorboat powered by an inboard motor powering a jet pump or by an outboard or propeller driven motor
◦ is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling on the craft, rather than in the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside a motorboat
Personal watercraft are considered motorboats under the law so they must follow all of the regulations that govern other motorboats.
In addition, personal watercraft:
◦Are required to have a rules decal, provided at no charge by the DNR, in full view of the operator
◦Operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (life vest)
◦Are required to carry a USCG approved fire extinguisher
◦Must travel at slow-no wake speed (5 mph or less) within 150 feet of: ◦Shore (except when a PWC is launching or landing a water skier by the most direct route to open water)
◦Docks, swimmers, swimming rafts, any moored or anchored watercraft, or non-motorized watercraft.
◦Cutoff lanyards must be properly used and attached to the person, life vest or clothing of the operator
◦May only operate between 9:30 a.m. and 1 hour before sunset (see sunset schedule)
You may not: ◦Chase or harass wildlife
◦ Operate while facing backward
◦ Operate in a way that endangers life, limb or property
◦ Operate a personal watercraft if the spring-loaded throttle mechanism has been removed or tampered with so it interferes with the return-to-idle system
◦ Weave through congested watercraft traffic or jump the wake of another watercraft within 150 feet of the other boat
◦ Travel through emergent or floating vegetation at greater than a slow no wake speed
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Boat & Water Safety Section
500 Lafayette Rd.
St. Paul, MN 55155-4046