Lake Erie Boating Regulations


Boating is a hobby in which freedom of the open water and freedom of spirit are some of the main components of enjoyment. Although boating promotes lots of freedoms, there are rules and regulations when you are on the water. Each area has its own regulations. On Lake Erie, the rules are in place not to inhibit you, but to keep you safe from harm.


  • As long as you follow other rules and regulations, you are allowed to boat on any part of the lake, as long as it is not considered private land. The land under the water can be owned by private corporations. Usually these areas will be marked on a detailed map of Lake Erie, or blocked off.

Water Sports

  • If you are on the lake, and in a boat big enough to carry PWC, or private craft such as a Jet Ski, children under the age of 12 are not allowed to operate these vehicles. If a child is between the ages of 12 to 15, the child can operate the machine with an education permit, and if they are accompanied by an adult.


  • Any boater who was born after January 1, 1982 and is operating a boat with an engine graded at greater than 10 horsepower must have completed a course approved by NASBLA, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Those found to be operating a boat without this license can be fined.

Right of Way

  • If you are boating in a personal vehicle for non-commercial purposes, you must give the right of way in channels and locks to commercial vehicles.

Federal Waters

  • Lake Erie is considered federal waters, and as such, you must follow rules laid out by the U.S. Coast Guard. Documentation of the U.S. Coast Guard rules for federal waters can be obtained from its website, or from a U.S. Coast Guard base location.


  • You must have a set amount of required equipment on board your vessel at all times when you are on Lake Erie. The equipment requirements for your vessel depends on how many people are on board and how large the vessel is. You will need to have safety vests, emergency signals, lights and fire extinguishers for nearly all boat types.


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