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Boating Safety

Welcome to our boating safety page! We put this page together so new boaters can learn what to pay attention to while out on the water, and so experienced boaters can brush up on their nautical knowledge before taking the boat out on the water.

Operating a boat on the river is a lot different than operating a boat on the lake. For those of you who have never navigated on a river, don't be intimidated by the information on this page. Use this page as a tool to help prepare you for the wonderful experience you are about to encounter! If you do have any questions about any of this information, don't be afraid to call! We can be reached at 651-438-9999.

Another helpful tool is a website called RentalBoatSafety.com

It goes through all of the safety information you need to know for a runabout or pontoon rental!

Check out the introductory video to the right!


Before boarding the boat...
The following items must be onboard the watercraft:

  • Life jackets for every person on board (The law requires all children less than 10 years old to wear a life jacket on board all boats).
  • Anchor and line
  • Throwable cushion
  • Fenders
  • Paddle
  • Fire Extinguisher
The operator of the watercraft must have his/her valid photo drivers license onboard the watercraft.
Additionally, the boat liscense and registration must be on the watercraft (that will be provided by the boat rental company).
Coast Gaurd Approved Life Jacket - Boating Safety - Great River Boat Rental

Rules of the Water

Passing: When overtaking another watercraft going in the same direction, the craft being overtaken must maintain course and speed. The passing watercraft must keep a sufficient distance to avoid collision or endangering the other craft from its wake.

Meeting: When two watercraft approach each other "head-on" each must alter course to the right to avoid collision. If the two watercraft are fare enough to the left of each other, no change in direction is needed for safe passage. Both watercraft will maintain their course and speed so as to pass clear of each other, and keep to the right in narrow channels.

Crossing: If two watercraft approach each other at a right angle, the watercraft to the right shall have the right-of-way.

Non-Motorized Craft: Non-motorized craft (sailboats, canoes, etc.) have the right-of-way over motorized craft in all situations, except when the non-motorized craft is overtaking or passing.

Commercial Vessels: Small boats should not insist on the right-of-way when approaching large commercial vessels, which are limited in maneuverability

Emergency Craft: All watercraft will yield right-of-way to an authorized watercraft displaying a red or blue flashing light

Move Over Law: When approaching and passing a law enforcement watercraft with its emergency lights activated, the operator of a watercraft must safely move the watercraft away from the law enforcement watercraft and maintain a slow-no wake speed while within 150 feet of the law enforcement watercraft.

Minnesota Waterway Markers - Boating Safety - Great River Boat Rental

Minnesota Waterway Markers
This diagram shows what the waterway markers look like on the rivers. There are minor differences in the markings in some areas, especially on the Mississippi heading south towards Red Wing. Operators of watercrafts need to understand the waterway marker system and should be able to identify the buoys along the waterway.

No Wake Zones
These Zones are areas in which boats must NOT create any wakes. Therefore you must go the slowest possible speed. Areas where no wake zones exist are within 100 feet of shores, including islands, within 100 feet of swimmers, boat launches and marked areas.

Wingdams are concrete walls underneath the rivers along the shore that stretch out into the channels up to 50 feet. They are primarily used in the Mississippi River, but there are some found on the St. Croix River and at the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. Wingdams are used to help control the flow of the rivers. Many boaters are unaware of the existence of this system, especially since they are hard to spot. However, you can help prevent damage to you and your boat by being aware of their existence and by staying in between the channel markers.

Great River Boat Rental patrons may take the boats as far as Stillwater, MN on the St. Croix River and as far as Treasure Island Casino on the Mississippi River. Click HERE to view navigational maps to plan your boating expedition! All information presented on this page was obtained from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. If you would like to take a boating safety course or would like to read more about the rules and regulations of the water, you may visit Minnesota DNR's website at www.mndnr.gov/boatingcourse

We also recommend that you read the 2011 Department of Natural Resources Boating Guide for more thorough information