Boat Rules and Regulations


Are you looking to hit the water this summer on Lake Coeur d’Alene? If so, you should make sure that you’re well aware of all boat rules and regulations first. Keep reading below as we go over some of the most important rules and regulations for all boats and operators on the water.

How boats work

Boating is one of the best things to do in Coeur d’Alene. First things first, though, you should be well aware of how boats work before heading out on the water. Boats are very different from cars so understanding how they operate is the first step to following proper regulation on the water.

A boat, unlike a car, floats on water and is propelled with a marine engine. This engine has only one gear and is made to withstand a constantly wet environment. Do thorough research on how your boat’s engine works before operating it on the water.

In simple terms, all engines work in similar fashion. When the engine is off, the boat floats in the water. When the engine is turned on, the blades rotate and propel the boat through the water. If you speed the engine up with the throttle, the blades move quicker and the boat goes faster and vice versa. Then you turn the wheel like you do in a car. Turning the wheel in the direction you want to go will make the engine turn as well, thus moving the boat. Make sense? It’s pretty simple.

Boating rules and regulations

Now that you know the basics of how a boat works, you should know about some of the most important rules and regulations. Below we’ll go over five standard rules, but make sure to do further research before heading out on the water.

Boating registration

Before you do anything, you need to make sure your boat is registered with the state, just like you register your car. This helps the state identify the boat as your property.

Once your boat is registered, then you will be given a registration card. This registration card must be on-board your vessel whenever its in use. Not having it with you can result in fines by local law enforcement.

Boating age

Operating a boat is different from operating a car, but that doesn’t mean that just anyone can do it.

To operate a boat, the minimum age is 14 years old. At 14, you can operate a boat if you have a boater education card or are under the supervision of an adult who is authorized to drive a boat. Once you are 16, then you may operate a boat with or without supervision. For more information, reach out to your local registration office.

Boat life jackets

Many people are confused on the rules regarding life jackets. In the state of Idaho, the rules are as follows:

If the boat is under 19ft long, then you must wear a life jacket when the boat is moving. Additionally, if you are under the age of 14, you must also be wearing a life jacket at all times.

The state of Idaho requires that you use proper life jackets approved by the Coast Guard. These are type I, II, III, or V life jackets.  Any other life jackets or flotation devices are not approved for use when the boat is in operation.

Boating navigation

Boating navigation is important because maintaining safe navigation is your responsibility as the operator. First and foremost, always keep an eye on your surroundings and maintain proper speed limits.

Boating speed limits

Speed limits are posted on waterways, especially in regards to no-wake zones. No-wake zones are locations where your boat is not allowed to travel at a speed that will produce waves, or wake. These are usually in narrow channels or rivers, or around highly-populated locations such as resorts, marinas, etc. Keep an eye out for orange and white buoys, these will alert you when you are approaching a no-wake.

When not in a no-wake zone, you may go faster. However, never go so fast that you can’t properly maneuver your boat.  Slow down when near other boats or when going around blind curves. Always maintain complete control of the watercraft and follow proper marine law.

Boating emergencies

While rare, there are occasionally boating emergencies on the water. In the event that you ever experience an emergency, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Most importantly, always have a medical kit on board with the essentials in it – bandaids, ibuprofen and aspirin, gauze and wraps, tweezers and scissors, etc. In addition, make sure you have flares, extra flotation devices, a fire extinguisher, and a communication or signaling device (phones, mirrors, lights, horns, etc).

Avoid bad weather if at all possible and if you experience a breakdown or are in an accident, call the authorities immediately. If you’re not able to reach the authorities due to limited service, flag down another boat and ask for their assistance with your signaling device.

Hit the Water

Once you have done all of the proper research and preparation, then you can safely hit the water. If you have any questions at all, you can always contact your local authorities to ensure you’re fully prepared. Their job is to help you in any way possible.

You can also contact us with questions! Here at Resort Boat Rentals, we rent boats out to customers on Lake Coeur d’Alene throughout the summer. You can call us if you are interested in CDA boat rentals or if you have any questions regarding the above rules and regulations.

Contact us today and let us help you hit the water safely!