Prepare for safe boating in Wisconsin.
10 MOST COMMON
1. Failure to provide an adequate
number of life jackets is mandatory
2. Personal watercraft violations
3. Operating a boat without a valid
certificate of number (begins
4. Local ordinance violations
5. Operating a motorboat while
under the influence
6. Operating a boat in excess It is estimated that over
of the speed limit or in a one million boats ta ke to
prohibited area Wisconsin waters each
year ma king courtesy,
7. Operating a boat at night safety and ed ucation
without the required lights important issues for
8. Operating a boat that is towing
a water-skier without a required
oating is a major Wiscon- to boating and environmental factors.
9. Failure to display proper sin recreational activity as Incompetent boaters also cause
registration well as a significant part of more severe accidents. The National
10. Failure to have certificate of the state’s economy and Transportation Safety Board reports
number on board (plastic tourism industry. In Wisconsin, the boating fatalities are second only to
card titled “Wisconsin Boat number of motorboat registrations highway fatalities and more than 80
Registration Certificate”) has increased by over 15 percent percent of recreational boat opera-
— Source: Wisconsin DNR since 1996. Department of Natural tors involved in fatal boating acci-
Resources surveys indicate that an dents have not taken any type of
average of 36 percent of Wisconsin boater education course. An un-
WHEN TO CALL citizens participate in boating each trained boater would likely not know
year and this level of participation is the proper steps to take in a life-
Boat accidents must be reported im- expected to continue. threatening situation, such as cap-
mediately to a conservation warden or “But safe boating is a critical part sizing, a fall, fire, sinking, flooding or
other law enforcement officer if the ac- of a pleasant on-the-water experience collision.
cident (regardless of the number of and safe boating starts before you In 2007, 18 people died in 122 re-
boats involved) results in loss of life, launch,” explains Roy Zellmer, DNR ported boat accidents on Wisconsin
injury that requires medical treatment Boating Law Administrator. In fact, waters. Five deaths were the result
beyond first aid, boat or property dam- as a result of 2007 legislation, boat- of impact/trauma/injuries with the
age in excess of $2,000 or complete ing education is now mandatory in remaining 13 a result of drowning.
loss of a boat. Wisconsin for motorboat operators. Eleven of the 13 drowning deaths
To report a boating accident or other The law: Wisconsin boating safety were due to the boat capsizing or
violation, call 1-800-TIP-WDNR (1-800- certification or an out-of-state equiva- falls overboard. Failure to wear a life
847-9367). lent certification is required for opera- jacket or wear it correctly con-
In addition, within 10 days of the ac- tors born on or after January 1, 1989. tributed to all but one of the drown-
cident, the operator must submit a writ- Operators 12 to 15 years of age must ing deaths. Alcohol was a contribut-
ten report on Form 4100-20 (Operator either have a certificate or have an ing factor in one third of the fatal
Boating Incident Report Form) to the De- adult on board while operating. Any- boating incidents.
partment of Natural Resources. If you
one 10 years of age or older is eligible Zellmer asks you to start the sea-
are unable to download the form from
to take the class and receive a safety son on a safe note and boat smart.
the DNR website (dnr.wi.gov/org/es/
education completion certificate. The The DNR offers boater safety courses
certificate does not become valid until in cooperation with schools, private
are also available from DNR offices,
the child reaches 12 years of age. clubs and organizations. In 2007,
sheriffs’ departments and many local
police departments. Mail completed Statistics bear out what logic sug- 5,405 students were certified in 299
forms to: gests — boater education prevents ac- classes. Another 2,627 were certified
cidents and saves lives. Of the ap- by completing an Internet boat safety
WI Department of Natural Resources
proximately 7,700 accidents reported course.
Boating Program - LE/5
each year, the U.S. Coast Guard The new boating education rule in
P.O. Box 7921
found that nearly 70 percent are Wisconsin also allows boat rental
Madison, WI 53707-7921
caused by operator error as opposed businesses to provide the minimum
2 Know before you go
5. Boat accidents, emergency mea- Do your part to
sures, aquatic safety, alcohol
usage, visual distress signals, fire stop the spread.
on board and first aid. Clean boats mean clean waters. The
An online boating safety course is DNR reminds you to take these steps
also available. To register visit www. to prevent the spread of invasive
boat-ed.com/wi/index.htm. This on- species every time you leave a launch:
line instruction is not recommended • Inspect your boat, trailer and equip-
for children under 14 years of age. ment and remove visible aquatic
plants, animals and mud.
Be boat ready
NATIONAL SAFE BOATING COUNCIL
• Drain water from your boat, motor,
It’s also time to conduct your annual bilge, live wells and bait containers.
boat maintenance and make certain
your registration is up to date and • Dispose of leftover bait in the trash,
that the current year sticker is dis- not in the water or on land.
played. Here are a few other items to • Wash your boat and equipment
add to your boat check-up: with high pressure or hot water, or
Do trailer maintenance. Clean let it dry for five days before head-
and check for rust. Tighten bolts. ing to another waterbody.
basic training required for people who Check trailer hitches, safety chains,
will be operating a motorboat which rollers and pads. Check tire pres- Visit dnr.wi.gov/
they have rented or leased. The mini- sure and tire tread. Keep the tires invasives/ to learn
more about what
mum age to be eligible for a temporary and your spare inflated to the pres-
you can do to
boater education training and certifi- sure indicated on the sidewall and keep Wisconsin
cate is 16 years of age, and the certifi- inspect the tires for signs of wear. waterways clean
cation only applies to the operation of Check the safety chains from the car and prevent the
spread of invasive
boats that are rented or leased by the to the trailer and from the winch to
holder of the certificate. Motorboat the boat.
rental businesses will be required to For both trailer and boat, check
collect a $10 fee for the temporary electrical systems to make sure all
boating education course and issu- lights are in working order. Charge
ance of the certificate. up those batteries.
Inspect the boat. Check the hull,
On course pulleys, carpeting and fittings.
Grease pulleys and check them for
There is at least one boater educa-
signs of wear. Check and lubricate
tion course held per county per
steering cables. Move on to the
year. Boating safety classes are
electrical conduits, live well, com-
mostly offered in March, April, May
partments, chairs, benches, tran-
and June. Visit dnr.wi.gov/org/es/
som and the motor. Get your motor
tuned-up for the season.
to check latest availability. Course
Check all your lines including the
cost is $10 and content includes in-
anchor ropes. Replace if frayed.
Inspect the fuel lines for wear and
1. Boats, classification of boats, hull cracks. Install a fresh fuel filter. In-
designs and motors. spect your fuel tanks and cap vents.
2. Legal requirements, including reg- Check your safety equipment in-
istration and equipment require- cluding the number of life jackets on
ments. board, and make sure the fire extin-
3. Navigation rules, basic safety reg- guisher, flare kit, flashlights and
ulations and waterway marking first aid kit are up to snuff.
systems. Check the vehicle you will be
4. Getting underway, preparation, using to tow the trailer and boat. In-
loading, boarding, cruising, dock- spect the ball and hitch assembly
ing, anchoring, knots, trailering, and make sure the brakes on your
courtesy and maintenance. vehicle are in good shape.
For state boating law information, call Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources, at 1-888-936-7463, or visit dnr.wi.gov
Know before you go 3
SAFETY TIPS FOR BEGINNERS AND SEASONED BOATERS
Even if you have taken a boater education course it helps to brush up on these important boating
safety tips before your season on the water begins.
1. Carry one wearable U.S. Coast Guard 8. Check the boat landing for local regulations. 15. Make certain your registration is up to
(USCG) approved life jacket of the proper date and that the current year’s sticker is
size and type for each boat occupant.
9. If boating on the Great Lakes or Mississippi displayed. Carry your registration card on
River, review the federal regulations for
Serviceable jackets and vests have no board with you.
tears, rips, broken straps or snaps.
Squeeze kapok life jackets to check that 10. Ventilate tank after refueling. Open all 16. Practice good boat launch etiquette.
they are pliable and are free of punctures hatches and run the blower. Sniff for fumes 17. Practice loading and unloading on a day
in the inner plastic liner. And remember: before starting the engine and do not start that isn’t too busy at the ramp.
all life jackets must be ready at hand and the engine until the air smells clean.
not enclosed in plastic bags or locked
18. Remove boat covers and straps before you
compartments. Better yet, just wear one
11. Learn proper anchoring procedures. get in line to launch.
Improper anchoring causes many fatal
every time you go boating.
19. Load equipment into the boat before you
reach the ramp. Make sure all equipment
2. Boats 16 feet and over must also carry
one USCG-approved throwable life jacket
12. Never consume alcohol or drugs before is working and that the drain/boat plug
or during boat operation. Wisconsin law is in.
states that a person is considered to be
3. If your boat has enclosed compartments operating a vessel under the influence of
20. Once in line to launch, have a person
available to hold the bow line and assist
or a false floor, you must carry a USCG- alcohol or drugs if he or she:
in boat handling at the pier.
approved fire extinguisher. Make sure that
❍ Has a blood or breath alcohol concen-
it is charged and accessible.
tration of 0.08 percent or greater or...
21. Have one person drive the boat off the
trailer and out of the way of other boaters
4. Test your boat lights before the boat leaves
❍ Is under the influence of any controlled while another person is parking the tow
the dock. If you use battery-operated
substance or any other unprescribed vehicle.
lights, always carry extra batteries. Keep
drug, or any combination of alcohol,
in mind that even if you plan to be back
controlled substance or drugs that
22. When leaving a boat launch, maintain
before dark, an equipment malfunction or slow-no-wake speed for a safe and legal
renders that person incapable of
bad weather may change your plans. distance from the boat launch.
5. Be weather wise. Sudden wind shifts, 23. If bad weather is approaching, get off the
lightning flashes and choppy water all can
13. If you loan your boat or personal watercraft water early to avoid a long waiting line.
to someone, teach them how to operate
mean a storm is brewing. Bring along a
radio and keep a close eye on the weather.
it. If you share the boat — share the 24. Drop one person off at the pier to get the
knowledge! tow vehicle and then get in line.
6. Bring emergency supplies: maps, flares
and a first aid kit. Keep them in a floatable
14. Never allow passengers to ride on 25. Once loaded, pull well away from the
gunwales or seatbacks or outside of launch area before securing the boat for
protective railings, including the front travelling purposes.
7. Tell someone where you are going and of a pontoon boat. A sudden turn, stop
when you will return. Bring a cell phone. or start could cause a fall overboard.
Boating safety programs benefit A product of
An increase in registration fees helps fund the programs. Natural Resources
ees charged by the Department of Natural Resources for original boat registration and renewal increased effec- magazine
tive October 30, 2007. The fee increase is expected to generate approximately $330,000 in 2007-2008 and Cover photo courtesy
$870,000 in 2008-2009. Boat registration fees are used to administer boat registration and titling, and operate the of National Safe
boating safety and enforcement prog rams. The costs of the title fee, t ransfer fee and replacement of Boating Council
titles, expiration decals and certificate of number cards have not changed.
“For example, original registration of a motorized boat 16 to 26 feet in length has increased from $29 to $33 and re-
newal of that size boat increased from $24 to $28,” said Diane Brookbank, director of DNR’s Customer Service and
Licensing bureau. Designed by
The registration instruction form and application form can be found at dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/cs/registrations/ Waldbillig &
Boat owners can also renew their registration online 24 hours a day, seven days a week using their credit card. Publication number
Boat owners can then print the validation receipt that will allow them to operate their boats while they wait for LE-325-2008
their new registration certificate and decals.
4 Know before you go