Q. How old do I have to be to operate a boat on Wyoming waters?
A. Boat operators must be at least 16 years old here in the Equality State. This includes personal watercraft such as "Wave Runners" or "Jet Skis." Persons under 16 years can operate a boat if they are accompanied by an adult and the adult is responsible for the craft's safe operation.
Q. Do I need life jackets in a boat that doesn't have a motor?
A. Yes. Whether the boat has a motor or not is immaterial to the life jacket law. Wyoming law requires that watercraft, whether motored or not, must carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device (PFD) of a suitable size for each person on board. "Water sport toys" -- float tubes, air mattresses -- are exempt from the PFD requirement in most instances. "Toy" users must wear a PFD if being pulled by a boat or if a motor is attached to the toy, as some anglers are doing by attaching an electric motor to their float tube.
Q. Why do some lakes have boating and horsepower restrictions?
A. It's a matter of safety and outdoor ethics. Lakes with boating or motor restrictions are usually smaller waters that attract small craft, such as rowboats, canoes and rafts. On these waters the wake created by large motorboats can capsize smaller craft. Motorboat waves crashing the shore can also cause ill feelings with bank anglers. Boating restrictions are listed in the Wyoming Fishing Regulations.
Q. Do I need to license my canoe?
A. Only if it has some means of gas or electric propulsion. Since 2002, all boats with any size motor- both gas and electric - need to be registered. In addition, U.S. Coast Guard regulations require registration of any watercraft, whether motor powered or not, if the vessel is used in another state or a national park. All watercraft using Wyoming waters are required to display an Aquatic Invasive Species decal. Non-motorized inflatable watercraft 10 feet or less in length are exempt.
Q. Is it legal for my 15-year-old child to operate a jet ski?
A. Only if accompanied by an adult. Boating laws specify that no person shall operate or be in physical control of a numbered motorboat unless he or she is 16 years of age or is accompanied by an adult. This includes personal watercraft such as jet skis and waverunners since these craft are classified as motorboats under Wyoming law.
Q. Do I need to wear a life jacket when boating?
A. If you're 13 or older, then you are not required by law to wear a life jacket - but it is recommended. However, wearing a life jacket is required in some boating activities, including water skiing and being towed by a boat on other devices. Boaters are encouraged to read the section in the Wyoming Boating Regulations dealing with the various safety equipment required for different classes of boats.