Before you hit the water, please review the following boating safety information.  This is a subset of the full set of Vermont Boating Laws and Responsibilities.  For a printable handblook, click here (PDF).

Age Restrictions

Less than 12

  • Restricted to 6 HP or less
  • Must wear an approved type I, II, III or V PFD (personal floatation device/life jacket) when above decks and underway.
  • May not act as a water sports observer

Less than 16

  • May not operate a personal watercraft (PWC)
  • Must wear an approved type I, II, III or V PFD on a sailboard

Born after January 1, 1974

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

  • All vessels, except sailboards, must carry one wearable (Type I, Type II, Type III or Type V) U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD for each person onboard.
  • All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition and readily accessible. The PFDs must be of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
  • In addition to the above requirements, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one Type IV U. S. Coast Guard-approved PFD onboard and readily accessible.
  • Children under 12 years of age must wear a Type I, II or III U. S. Coast Guard-approved PFD at all times while underway on the open deck of any vessel.
  • A person under 16 years of age must wear a Type I, II or III U. S. Coast Guard-approved PFD at all times while onboard a sailboard.
  • Everyone onboard a PWC must wear a Type I, II or III U. S. Coast Guard-approved PFD.
  • Anyone being towed behind a vessel must wear a Type I, II or III U. S. Coast Guard-approved PFD.

Boating While Intoxicated

  • Vermont law prohibits anyone from boating while intoxicated (BWI) due to alcohol, drugs, or any combination.
  • Vermont law states that a person is considered to be intoxicated if he or she has a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more (based on a chemical analysis of breath or blood) or is under the influence of alcohol or any other drug to a degree that he or she is incapable of operating safely.
  • No person under the age of 21 shall operate, attempt to operate or have physical control of a vessel on Vermont waters when the person's blood alcohol concentration is 0.02 or greater.
  • By operating a vessel on Vermont waters, you have consented to be tested for alcohol or drugs if requested by a law enforcement officer.

Speed Limits & Noise

  • Within 200 feet of shore, dock, swim area, person in water and other vessels or anchorage, speed must be less than 5 mph and must not create a wake.
  • This includes The Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Assocation milfoil harvesters, which will display round orange buoys in the water when actively harvesting.
  • The entire area north of Keywaydin Point, which is a delicate milfoil infestation zone, is 5 mph/no wake zone, marked with a buoy.
  • The southern most end of the lake is also a 5 mph/no-wake zone, marked with a buoy.
  • All engines must be muffled in order to reduce operating noise level to not more than 82 decibels on the A scale at 50 feet.

Navigation Lights (between sunset and sunrise):

Power-Driven Vessels Underway

  • Red and green sidelights visible from a distance of at least 1 mile
  • An all-round white light or sternlight visible from a distance of 2 miles

Unpowered Vessels Underway

  • A combination red, green, and white light, exhibited near the top of the mast (e.g., sailboats)
  • One lantern or flashlight shining a white light (e.g., kayaks, rowboats, paddleboards)

All Vessels Not Underway

  • All vessels are required to display a white light visible in all directions whenever they are moored or anchored outside a designated mooring area between sunset and sunrise.

Personal Watercraft (PWC)

  • Operation of a personal watercraft shall not be operated at any time between sunset and sunrise.
  • PWC operators and passengers must wear an approved Type I, II, or III PFD.
  • No person less than 16 years of age shall operate a PWC.

Water Skiing

  • An observer (who is not the boat operator) is required. The observer must be at least 12 years of age.
  • Water skiers must remain at least 100 feet away from a person in the water or light craft.

Snorkeling and Diving

  • All divers and snorkelers shall display a diver down  flag while in the water.
  • All motorized vessels must maintain a distance of no less than 200 feet from diver down a flag (red with white diagonal stripe).


  • If your boat is not Vermont registered, a validation sticker is required if it is in Vermont waters between 30 and 90 days per year. A Vermont registration is required if your boat is in Vermont waters more than 90 days per year.
  • The numbers and stickers are placed on both port and starboard sides, with the sticker fore of the numbers.

Accident Reporting

  • Any accident involving personal injury or damage greater than $100 must be reported within 36 hours. Report accidents to the Vermont State Police.