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Massachusetts Personal Watercraft (PWC) Safety Laws

The following abstracts summarize some important Massachusetts Personal Watercraft (PWC) Laws as of May 2003. For further information on boat and PWC laws, contact the Massachusetts Environmental Police at (508) 759-0002.

Personal Watercraft Defined : A personal watercraft is a Class A inboard motorboat.

Follow basic boating safety rules and laws, and protect your privilege to operate personal watercraft.
  • Wear an approved life preserver (PFD) at all times.
  • Attach the safety lanyard to yourself and the cutoff switch.
  • Check throttle control and steering before starting engine.
  • Steering PWC requires thrust, maintain speed when turning.
  • Always operate at slow, no-wake speed (6MPH or less) when within 150 feet of the following:
    • Shoreline
    • Boat Launch
    • Moored or Docked Boat
    • Swimmer
    • Watercraft
    • Raft or Float
    • Never operate at all, within 150 feet of any bathing beach.

No person shall operate a PWC except in a safe and prudent manner, so as not to endanger life, limb, or property. The following are examples of negligence or other prohibited operation.

You must not operate:

  • If less than 16 years old
  • During the nighttime
  • On waters under 75 acres
  • Under the influence of alcohol
  • At high speed in congested areas
  • While towing a skier, or any person in any manner




Massachusetts Harbormasters Association, Inc.