Florida Boating Laws – What Must Be aboard a Vessel According to Florida Law?

According to Florida law what must be aboard a vessel? Florida law mandates that every vessel owner and operator carry, store and maintain all required safety equipment on board their vessels at all times when underway.

This means any time the vessel is not tied directly to shore anchorage, moorage or made fast to it.

PFDs (life jackets) must be of appropriate size for all individuals on board and readily accessible, while three current-dated, hand-held approved flares must also be kept handy to signal day and nighttime distress signals.

What Must Be aboard a Vessel According to Florida Law?

Personal Flotation Device

By Florida law, individuals on watercraft are required to wear personal flotation devices that meet US Coast Guard specifications at all times while onboard. Children aged six or younger must also use USCG-approved PFDs; vessels over 16 feet must also carry throwable Type IV PFDs which must remain easily accessible while moving.

Also read: “How Do I Know If It Feels Like Bubbles Popping in My Head?”

Bells or whistles are required equipment aboard vessels, with minimum size requirements being 7.87 inches in diameter with the ability to emit sounds that can be heard within 1/2 nautical mile from your vessel. Furthermore, all vessels should carry and have ready access to an appropriate fire extinguisher that meets size requirements and should be mounted and readily available.

Anyone operating their vessel with reckless disregard for the safety of people and property can be charged with reckless operation. All operators should operate their boats responsibly, taking into consideration other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, the presence of divers-down flags or any other circumstances which may impede navigation.

See also  How Dynamic Content Optimization Can Help You Increase Your Web Traffic

Fishing License

Fishing and hunting are integral parts of Floridian culture, yet many don’t realize the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulates it heavily. The FWC establishes season limits, size restrictions and bag limits to safeguard marine resources. Therefore, you must understand these regulations to avoid breaking them.

If you plan to fish (defined as taking, attempting to take, pursuing, molesting, capturing or killing any type of aquatic organism), either freshwater or saltwater fishing license or an exemption is necessary. A freshwater license is needed if taking fish in freshwater where no saltwater species exist while saltwater licenses must be obtained when fishing in bodies of water where both saltwater and freshwater species co-exist; both types require licenses unless exempted by state legislation.

As well as possessing a fishing license, each person on your vessel must also be equipped with a USCG-approved personal flotation device for everyone aboard – this includes children under six. Vessels 16 feet or longer must also carry throwable PFDs for each passenger on board. You should also include sound signaling devices like whistles or bells as well as an overboard man flag approved by USCG; furthermore a waste management plan must also be established if operating beyond 3 miles from shore.

Boating Safety Education I.D. Card

Florida law mandates that anyone operating a boat must complete and obtain a boating safety course and obtain their Boating Safety Education ID Card as proof of having successfully completed it. You should carry or keep with you at all times your card to show proof that it was successfully obtained; alternatively a course completion certificate or valid bill of sale may serve in its place until receiving their card. Furthermore, liveries renting boats cannot rent to individuals who do not hold such documentation.

See also  What Happens If You Disconnect Throttle Position Sensor?

Florida law mandates that children under six must wear USCG-approved personal flotation devices during boat travel. Furthermore, vessels over 16 feet must carry an easily accessible throwable Type IV PFD approved by the Coast Guard; all vessels must also include an alarm horn and navigation light as well as be equipped with equipment that allows for the emergency shut off of both engine and fuel line in case of fire.

Any boater found with a breath alcohol level exceeding Florida law is in violation, which may lead to fines or imprisonment. Furthermore, anyone found destroying seagrass in aquatic preserves also commits acts contrary to Florida law and may face civil penalties as a result of their actions.


No matter if you fish Florida waters or simply pass through, registering and inspecting your vessel with the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) is highly recommended to allow them to track its condition and the compliance status of its owner as well as enforce safety and resource protection laws in Florida’s waterways.

Registration decals should be clearly visible and easily readable on both sides of your vessel above the waterline, clearly visible from both directions. Furthermore, always carry with your boat a copy of its certificate of registration; you can obtain this from either visiting an FWC district office in person or filling out their online application process.

Personal watercraft operators’s must be sure that all passengers wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets when operating the vessel, including noninflatable types I, II or III lifejackets of suitable size for themselves and any others on board. Jumping wakes of other vessels unnecessarily close is against the law when visibility is obstructed – and it is illegal to unnecessarily close them as well.

See also  Why Are Golden Goose Shoes So Expensive? 5 Amazing Facts

Before setting out on any fishing & boating adventures, always research the local regulations & rules before setting sail on a vessel. Florida saltwater regulations change frequently; the only surefire way of making sure you abide by state law on this trip is by studying them beforehand.