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Seattle Parks and Recreation

Boating Rules and Regulations

 

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SPEED REGULATIONS

The Seattle Harbor Code outlines speed zones within the boundaries of the City of Seattle.

The Seattle Police Harbor Patrol has the responsibility of enforcing the ordinances and regulations of the city upon the waters of the harbor...

As a boater, it is your responsibility to know the rules and regulations which apply to safe and legal boat operation. Among the rules that apply to all boaters are adherence to speed limits. All persons using the waterways of the city should be familiar with the following speed limits:

7 KNOT AREAS (7 Knots is equal to 8 mph)

  • The Lake Washington Ship Canal which runs between Lake Washington and Shilshole Bay has a general maximum speed limit of 7 knots. This includes the waters Westerly from the Webster Point Light, in Lake Washington, all portions of Union Bay, Portage Bay and Lake Union, the Fremont Cut, the Locks and west to the entrance buoy at Shilshole Bay.
  • Within 100 yards of any shoreline, pier, restricted area or shore installation in Lake Washington.
  • Within 200 yards from shoreline in all other waters of the city. This includes the waters of Puget Sound off Shilshole Bay, Elliott Bay and within the Seattle City limits.

4 KNOT AREAS

  • Government Locks: From the western end of the west guide pier of Hiram N. Chittenden Locks to the eastern end of the east guide pier.

3 KNOT AREAS

  • Andrews Bay, South of the outermost headlands of Andrews Bay, on the northwest side of Seward Park, (Lake Washington).
  • Rainier Beach: Within 100 Yards of the shoreline of Lake Washington in an area bounded on the north by an extension of South Henderson St. and bounded on the South by an extension of South Carver St.

LAKE UNION TEST LANE.

Within Lake Union there is a "Speed lane" marked by 4 yellow Buoys. The course runs east and west. Its purpose is for the operational testing and demonstration of vessels. Contact the Seattle Harbor Patrol for further information regarding the use of the Lake Union speed lane.

REDUCE YOUR WAKE!!

The speed zones within the city are in place to prevent accidents and protect persons and property against injury or damage.

Nothing in the preceding sections shall be construed to exempt any person from liability caused by wake action or from liability for negligent or reckless operation of a vessel in the areas designated therein. 16.20.132

Be a courteous boater. Reduce your speed around small boats such as kayaks and canoes. In the close quarters of Lake Union Houseboats and boats moored at the many marinas around the lake are susceptible to wake damage.

AS A BOAT OPERATOR, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR WAKE!

For additional information please contact:

Seattle Police Department Harbor Patrol
1717 North Northlake Wy
Seattle, WA 98103
Phone: (206) 684-4071


PERSONAL WATERCRAFT OPERATION - LAWS AND SAFETY TIPS

What is a personal watercraft?

Personal Watercraft are considered to be Class A inboard vessels as defined by the U.S. Coast Guard. It uses an internal Jet Ski Fun!combustion engine powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive propulsion. It is designed to be operated by persons sitting, standing or kneeling on rather than the conventional manner of boat operation.

A Personal Watercraft is also subject to all the rules and regulations that govern boat operation in the State of Washington.

THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY VIOLATED LAWS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR PERSONAL WATERCRAFT OPERATORS.

REGISTRATION: All Personal Watercraft must be registered with the State of Washington and the operator must have available for inspection the vessel registration (Similar to a car registration). 16.20.210

SPEEDING: Vessels are limited to a maximum speed of 7 nautical miles per hour (8mph): Within 100 yards of any shoreline, pier, shore installation or restricted area in Lake Washington. Within 200 yards of any shoreline upon Puget Sound. Upon all the waters of Lake Union, Portage Bay, Union Bay and the Lake Washington Ship Canal from Shilshole Bay to Webster Point.

"A speed limit of 3 nautical miles per hour is enforced in Andrews Bay (Seward Park) and at Rainier Beach." 16.20.130

PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICE (PFD): Operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device or life vest. RCW 88.12.145

VESSEL Jet ski registration numberNUMBERING: All Personal Watercraft must have registration numbers, in contrasting colors, displayed on both sides of the forward section of the hull. (A yearly decal must be displayed in conjunction with the numbers). 16.20.030

AGE LIMITS: The operator of a Personal Watercraft must be at least 14 years of age. It is unlawful for a person to lease, hire or rent a Personal Watercraft to any person under 16 years of age. RCW 88.12.145

FIRE EXTINGUISHER: Every Personal Watercraft must be equipped with a Fire Extinguisher (Usually carried in a compartment at the rear of the machine). 16.20.030

NEGLIGENT OPERATION: Operating a vessel in a manner so as to endanger or likely endanger any person or property or operate at a rate of speed greater than will permit him/her to exercise reasonable care or control of the vessel. (Such as wake jumping too close to boats, speeding too close to other vessels, the shoreline, swimming beaches or launch ramps). 16.20.090

MUFFLER: It is unlawful to operate any engine on the waters of the city of Seattle without a muffler or silencer of sufficient size to prevent excessive or unusual noise from the exhaust of the engine. 16.20.040

HOURS OF OPERATION: Personal Watercraft may be operated from sunrise to sunset. RCW 88.12.145

What are the rules for operation?

Federal, State and City laws govern the operation of all boats, including Personal Watercraft.

RULES OF THE ROAD: On Seattle waters, all vessels must comply with the International Rules for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Commonly called 72 COLREGS). THESE RULES DEFINE SUCH THINGS AS RIGHT OF WAY, SAFE SPEED ETC.

SAFETY TIPS:

  • Use protective equipment: Wear your PFD but also use eye protection, gloves and deck shoes. A wet suit will help protect against hypothermia.
  • Use care when wake jumping, Stay well clear of other vessels. Wake jumping produces a large percentage of the complaints of negligence directed at personal watercraft operators. It also accounts for a number of injuries incurred by personal watercraft operators.
  • Don't Drink and Ride: Alcohol and drugs affect your judgment.. The added affect of sun and physical exertion compounds the effects of alcohol and increases your risk of being involved in an accident.
  • Whistle: Carry a whistle for signaling and warning.
  • Tow Rope: Store a long rope in good condition on the vessel.
  • Lanyard: Wear the kill-switch safety Lanyard when operating your personal watercraft (PWC). The Lanyard attaches to the operator and the vessel to automatically shut off the engine if the operator is separated from the craft..
  • Take a boating safety course offered by organizations such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron.

The best way to become familiar with the rules and regulations is by taking one of the numerous boating safety courses available. Contact the Seattle Harbor Patrol or the Coast Guard Auxiliary for information on specific boating courses.

LEARN SAFETY:

Irresponsible acts by a few operators and careless operation by new or uninformed riders and owners have resulted in numerous boating accidents throughout Washington State. Most of these accidents involve injuries and some have resulted in death. Accidents involving Personal Watercraft have almost doubled in the last few years.

More information

More information about personal watercraft laws and safety is available from:

US COAST GUARD AUXILIARY
206 220-7081

US POWER SQUADRON
1-800-336-BOAT

WASHINGTON STATE PARKS AND RECREATION
1-800-233-0321

SEATTLE DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
206-684-7099

SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
HARBOR STATION
1717 North Northlake PL
Seattle, WA. 98103
(206) 684-4071

 
Updated May 17, 2012

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