by Beth June
It’s that time of year when Wave Runners, Jet Skis and other personal watercraft begin to cruise the lake. I personally love taking out our Wave Runner. It is a great way to spot turtles swimming in the clear waters of Clark Lake as well as to take a quick spin around the lake. I also have nieces, nephews and grandchildren who want to take our Wave Runner out for a ride and I have to tell them “no” because they do not have a Boating Safety Certificate. My 35 year old niece did not expect to also hear that “No” but she did.
Here are the rules in the State of Michigan:
1. No one less than 14 years of age may legally operate a personal watercraft (PWC).
2. Those 14 and 15 years of age may operate a PWC legally only if they have obtained a Boating Safety Certificate AND … he or she is accompanied on board by his or her parent or legal guardian or by a person at least 21 years of age who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian…. OR … he or she is operating or riding the PWC at a distance of not more than 100 feet from his or her parent or legal guardian or from a person at least 21 years of age who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian.
3. Those at least 16 years of age and born after December 31, 1978, may operate a PWC legally only if they have obtained a Boating Safety Certificate.
4. Those born on or before December 31, 1978, may operate a PWC legally without restrictions.
Confusing? You’re not alone! Most people are not aware of the above laws (taken directly the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources website (http://michigan.gov/dnr).
What is a Boating Safety Certificate? It is proof that you have successfully completed the State-approved safety course. The certificate never expires, doesn’t need to be renewed and is accepted in almost 40 states. You need one to operate a PWC unless you were born before December 31, 1978.
The panic might start to build as you realize how this impacts not only you but your family and friends who visit. The next logical question is “How do grandchildren, nieces, nephews and visitors get a Boating Safety Certificate?” The answer is:
On June 10th and June 17th, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Marine Division is offering classes at Krupa’s Boat Mart. Call them at (517) 782-7146 to register and for class details.
On June 16th & 18th, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department again is offering classes but this time at the Clark Lake Beach and Boat Club. Registration is required and space is limited so call Doreen at 517-768-7921 to register.
The Boating Safety Certificate is also available by taking the course online at www.boat-ed.com.
Michigan law enforcement officers patrol our lake so it’s recommended that you carry your Boating Safety Certificate with you on board and have it available for inspection. There is a fine for not carrying it if you are stopped.
Are you wondering about who can legally operate a power boat? That too can be found at http://michigan.gov/dnr. You’ll want to know if operators of your watercraft are legal.