Maintaining Safe Boating in Louisiana’s Waterways

Every boater is encouraged to take boater education. However, Louisiana law requires all boaters born after January 1, 1984, must complete a boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower. The person may operate the boat if accompanied by someone over 18 years of age who if required has completed the course.

The minimum age for Boater Education Certification in Louisiana is 10 years old. Youth younger than 10 years old may take the course, but they are not eligible to be certified and will have to retake the course to obtain certification when they reach 10 years of age or older. A person who is licensed by the USCG as a captain to operate a vessel shall be exempt from the provisions.

LDWF offers a free boating class that lasts between 6 and 8 hours that is usually completed in a day. The course includes information on choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal requirements and equipment requirements, many navigation rules, navigation charts, trailering, sailboats, and related subjects that include canoeing, personal watercraft and more. Completion of the course will result in the student being issued a vessel operators certification card.

Boating courses with LDWF/volunteers are offered year-round but are most popular in the spring and summer.  Upon successful completion, students will receive temporary Boater Education Certification credentials. They will receive their permanent card in the mail at a later date.

Who May Operate a Vessel/Personal Watercraft

Persons born after January 1, 1984, may not operate a motorboat or PWC powered by a motor in excess of 10 horsepower unless he or she has successfully completed a boating safety course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. The person may operate a motorboat if accompanied by someone over 18 years of age who if required has completed the course (this provision DOES NOT apply to PWCs). These persons must be in possession of evidence of completion of the approved course whenever operating such a vessel.

Personal Flotation Devices

Louisiana law requires that all children 16 years of age and younger wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD while underway on a vessel less than 26 feet long. The PFD must be fastened and of the proper size for the child.

All persons on board a motorboat less than 16 feet which is being propelled by a hand tiller outboard motor are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD while the motorboat is underway.

A motorboat less than 26 feet with a hand tiller outboard motor in excess of 10 horsepower designed to have or having an engine cut-off switch must have the engine cut-off switch link attacked to the operator, the operator’s clothing, or the operator’s PFD, if worn, while the motor is running and the vessel is underway.

Pirogues, Canoes and Kayaks Must have one Type I; II; or III PFD for each person on board, USCG approved and properly sized and in servicable condition.

Vessel Classes
Class A—-Less than 16 feet
Class 1—-16 feet to less than 26 feet
Class 2—-26 feet to less than 40 feet
Class 3—-40 feet to less than 65 feet

Personal Watercraft Requirements

Each person riding on a personal watercraft (PWC) must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (life jacket).

An operator of a PWC equipped with a lanyard-type ignition safety switch must attach the lanyard to his or her person, clothing, or PFD.

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 16 years to operate a PWC. It is also unlawful for a person who owns or has charge of a personal watercraft to knowingly permit a person under the age of 16 years to operate the PWC. It is illegal for a rental company to rent a personal watercraft to anyone under 16 years of age.
It is illegal to operate a PWC between sunset and sunrise.

PWCs must be operated in a careful and responsible manner. For example, it is illegal for PWC operators to:

Weave the PWC through congested waterway traffic.
Jump the wake of another vessel when visibility is obstructed.
Operate in a manner that requires swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision.
It is illegal to chase, harass, or disturb wildlife with your PWC.
PWC operators should avoid operating around fishermen, anchored vessels, or swimmers.

For additional boating safety tips or to learn more about boating courses, visit the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website.



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The West Bank Beacon

The West Bank Beacon is a local monthly publication with a mailed circulation of over 15,000 and thousands more distributed at points from Gretna to Grand Isle, the Beacon tells the story of a thriving community. A “good news” newspaper, our mission is to make readers aware of how both individuals and groups are making a positive difference in the neighborhoods where they live. This includes a focus on civic and city initiatives, volunteer efforts, and charity fundraisers, to name just a few examples.

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