What Do You Need in Order to Safely (and Legally) Boat in California?

Boating isn’t as simple as finding any old boat and setting off into the ocean. If you want to go boating the right way, there are a few things that you’ll need to take care of in advance. Are you up on what you need to boat safely and legally? If not, it is devastation just waiting to happen.

In order to own or operate a boat in California, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of first. What is required (and recommended) of you? Let’s take a look.

Personal Flotation Devices 

California boating law requires that all boats 16 feet or more in length, except canoes and kayaks, must carry one wearable life jacket for each person on board and one throwable device in each boat. PFDs must be readily accessible. Canoes and kayaks of any length and all other boats less than 16 feet in length must have all of the above except the throwable PFD.

Age Requirements

In California, all boaters between 12 and 15 years old require adult supervision (18 or older) to operate any motor-powered vessel greater than 15 horsepower. All boaters 16 years of age or older may operate any motor-powered vessel greater than 15 horsepower without adult supervision.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

No one shall operate a vessel or towed device while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. A boater with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more shall be presumed to be under the influence of alcohol. When the blood alcohol content level is between .05% but less than .08%, this information may be combined with other evidence to determine if the person was under the influence of alcohol while operating. “Zero Tolerance” prohibits anyone younger than 21 from consuming alcohol and operating a watercraft with any measurable alcohol level above .01%. 

Boat Registration & Insurance 

All vessels may be registered at any California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Upon registration, the DMV will issue the boat owner registration stickers, a Certificate of Number, and a Certificate of Ownership. Boat owners must keep the title of their boat in a safe place. On the reverse of the vessel title, there is an application for the transfer of ownership.

Also, it is in your best interest to be equipped with California Boat Insurance for proper protection. Safe boating means covering your bases and ensuring that you, your boat, and your passengers will be covered in the event of a catastrophe.

Certificate of Number

Boat owners must have at least a temporary Certificate of Number before they can operate in state waters. Upon receipt, the permanent Certificate of Number must be signed and carried on-board at all times. 

Your registration must be kept onboard the vessel at all times. Numbers must be affixed on both sides of the bow, be block letters, three inches high and contrasting with the color of your boat and have spaces or hyphens between numerals and letters.

Non-Native Pests 

Non-native aquatic species can be transported by recreational boaters when caught in propellers, intakes or attached to hulls, displacing native species, clogging waterways, impacting navigation and recreation. 

Help prevent the introduction and spread of non-native species by inspecting all exposed surfaces of your boat and remove aquatic plants or animals before you leave any body of water. Remove any plant fragments from bait wells, fishing gear, trailers, dive gear or props. Dispose of such fragments and/or bait into a garbage receptacle on land. Wash your boat before putting it into a new body of water

About Mariners Insurance

Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts and insure boats worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals with all of your Boat Insurance needs – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at (800) 992-4443 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.