Safe Boating

Photo by S. Brueske, 2007

Keep Safe and Watch Your Wake

photo credit: Western Washington University

Slow to 6 mph:

  • Within 100 feet of a swimmer or non-motorized boat

  • Within 300 feet of any public boat launch

  • Within 250 feet of shorelines, docks, and floats

Slow to 8 mph at night:

  • 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise

40 mph daytime speed limit

No Wake Zone in South Bay Lake Whatcom

Remember who has the right-of-way

  • Swimmers, divers, and fallen skiers have the right-of-way over any watercraft.

  • Non-motorized vessels have the right-of-way over any motor-powered vessel.

Water ski in a counter-clockwise direction

Read the Code:

Safe Boating Tips

Carry safety equipment at all times

Personal flotation devices (PFDs) or "life jackets" that are U.S. Coast Guard approved are required to be aboard for each passenger. Children under the age of 7 must always wear a PFD when aboard any boat, motorized or not. All motorized vessels must carry an approved fire extinguisher and, if over 16' in length, a whistle.

Know who to call if there's an emergency

The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office enforces boating regulations on Lake Whatcom. A deputy Sheriff patrols the lake on weekends during the boating season. If there's an emergency or a problem on the lake, call 9-1-1.

Follow age requirements

You must be at least 10 years old to operate motorized watercraft up to 10 HP without an adult aboard. You must be 16 to operate a motorized watercraft with a motor greater than 10 HP. State law requires all Washington residents born after January 1, 1955 who operate powered watercraft 15 HP or greater, to carry a Washington Boater Education Card.