Fishing & boating montage
County Guide - click for index
Regional Reports - click for index
Biologist Reports/Fisheries Management - click for index
PA Boating Handbook
Boat Operation Requirements

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to...

  • Operate a watercraft in a reckless, negligent or dangerous manner. Boats must be operated at a rate of speed that does not endanger the life or property of any person.
  • Operate a boat at greater than slow, no-wake speed within 100 feet of the shoreline, docks, launch ramps, swimmers or downed skiers, persons wading in the water, anchored, moored or drifting boats and floats. Slow, no-wake speed is the slowest possible speed of a motorboat required to maintain maneuverability so that the wake or wash created by the motorboat on the surface is minimal. (The slow, no-wake zone for wake surfing activity is 200 feet. See Water-skiing & Similar Activities.section.)
  • Operate a motorboat less than 20 feet in length at greater than slow no-wake while a person is standing on or in the boat.
  • Operate a motorboat at greater than slow, no-wake speed with a person riding outside of the passenger carrying area or while a person is riding on the bow decking, gunwales, transom or motor covers.
  • Cause a boat to become airborne or to leave the water completely while crossing another boat’s wake when within 100 feet of the boat creating the wake.
  • Weave through congested traffic.
  • Operate faster than slow, no-wake when within 100 feet to the rear or 50 feet to the side of another boat that is underway, unless in a narrow channel.
  • Operate within 100 feet of anyone towed behind another boat.
  • Operate a pontoon boat while a person is riding outside the passenger-carrying area.
  • Operate a motorboat with anyone sitting, riding or hanging on a swim platform or swim ladder attached to the boat.

Many waterways in Pennsylvania have special regulations such as electric only or horsepower restrictions.

Previous Boating Handbook Table of Contents Next
Bottom navigation bar
Copyright Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
click for Commonwealth of PA website click for list of PA state agencies click for PA online services Get your fishing license Register/title a boat Web Policies Site Map Contact Us PFBC Home Page