Rules & safety
Many recreational boaters in Washington State are required to complete a boating safety course and carry a Mandatory Boater Education Card. Learn more about the Mandatory Boater Education Card. Even if you are not required, the Recreational Boating Safety Program recommends taking a course to learn the basics of boating safety.
Following all boating laws is a critical step to boating safely. The Recreational Boating Safety Program also recommends following these five safety practices while boating:
Wear a life jacket when on or around the water. If you do not own a life jacket, you may borrow one from one of hundreds of free Life Jacket Loaner Stations across the state.
Know weather conditions and know your own limitations. Bring required and recommended equipment and know what to do in case of emergency.
Boat with a buddy
Don’t go boating alone. Prepare a float plan, one that includes your contact information and the details of your route to leave with family or friends
Be a role model
Boat safe and encourage others to do the same.
Enjoy and protect our natural spaces.
Operate your boat responsibly
How boaters operate and maintain their vessels can significantly affect the health of lakes, rivers and coastal waters. It is a boater's legal responsibility to help protect Washington waters and aquatic wildlife.
If required by your vessel, use a pumpout or dump station. Visit PumpoutWashington.org to find a map showing public pumpout and dump station locations across Washington state. There's an app for that! Learn more about the Pumpout Nav app. We recommend you download this free app through the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Popular parks with Boating
Getting started with Boating
To ensure your safety, as well as others on the water, it is important that boaters be familiar with the regulations of recreational vessel operation.
Take the time to learn the regulations related to vessel length, capacity, proper fueling and how to secure a boat to a trailer. Learn the right way to launch a boat into the water and familiarize yourself with the navigational rules and steps for handling bad weather and boating emergencies.
Map & visitor guide
Use the Find a Park Page to see maps and visitor guides for a specific park.