Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 16, 2008

Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

Safe Boating Week Kicks Off Recreational Boating Season

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash today recognized May 17-23 as National Safe Boating Week, the traditional beginning of the recreational boating season in New York State.

As millions of visitors and residents begin heading out on New York¡¦s outstanding rivers, lakes and coastal waters ¡V where they can enjoy everything from a relaxing canoe or kayak trip on a tranquil lake to a fishing expedition on the open ocean to an exhilarating rafting adventure on a whitewater river ¡V it¡¦s important to remember fun boating begins with safe boating,¡¨ Ash said. ¡§By understanding boating laws, the safe operation of your vessel, and the rules of navigation, you can better ensure a pleasant time for your family and friends.¡¨

National Safe Boating Week is a campaign sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council and provides an opportunity to spread the message of boating safety and encourage boater education. Throughout the season, boaters are reminded to practice safe and responsible boating, including

  • wearing a life jacket
  • completing a safe boating course
  • properly equipping and inspecting their vessel
  • maintaining a prudent speed
  • helping fellow boaters in distress
  • refraining from mixing alcohol with boating

There are more than 500,000 registered power boats and tens of thousands of additional manual and sail-powered watercraft in New York.

In New York State, children under 12 must wear a life jacket at all times unless situated within the cabin of a vessel. Each vessel must have one United States Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board. In nearly 80 percent of fatalities associated with recreational boating in New York State, the victim was not wearing a life jacket.

In recent years, fines and penalties for boating while intoxicated have been increased and now match those of driving while intoxicated. The state blood alcohol limit for boating while intoxicated is .08. In addition, New York has a zero tolerance provision for individuals under 21 convicted of boating while intoxicated.

All personal watercraft operators, regardless of age, are required to complete a safe boating course. Children between the age of 10 and 18 must complete a safe boating course if they are operating a vessel without adult supervision. The State Parks Marine Service Unit is responsible for the general coordination of boating safety programs and supports marine law enforcement efforts across the state including patrols, training and funding for local marine enforcement activities. New York has one of the largest boating safety education programs in the country that has educated more than 100,000 recreational boaters over the past five seasons.

Whether you are new to boating or want to sharpen your skills, everyone can benefit from completing a boating safety course to learn the basics of water safety,¡¨ Ash said.

For more information about boating safety and marine recreation in New York State, visit or call 518-474-0445.