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Do you know the basic navigation rules of boating?

Summer is fast approaching here in the upper Midwest. It's an ideal time to load up the family to do some recreational boating and fishing on White Bear Lake.

But before you head out for a cruise, make sure that you are savvy about some basic navigational rules and safety regulations.


When a boat passes you headed in the same direction, maintain your course and steady speed. Passing boats should take care not to swamp smaller watercraft with their wakes.


When two boats meet at right angles, the boater on the right has the right-of-way.


When boaters are going in opposite directions near one another, both must avoid a collision course with the other. When the channel narrows, hug the right. Otherwise, pass normally.

Nonmotorized watercraft

Canoes, sailboats and kayaks have the right-of-way over motorboats except when passing. However, smaller boats should not insist on the having the right-of-way over commercial boats that require considerable time to change course.

Emergency watercraft

All boats must cede the right-of-way to authorized emergency or police boats with flashing blue or red lights.

Minnesota's "Move Over" law

Boaters encountering or passing official boats with flashing lights are required to safely move out of the law enforcement boat's way and maintain a no-wake zone within 150 feet of the watercraft.

Prohibited acts on the water

Boaters are subject to arrest and/or citations for all of the following:

  • Recklessly or carelessly operating a watercraft
  • Obstructing navigation with your boat
  • Making wakes that interfere with, harass or endanger others or their property
  • Exceeding the watercraft's capacity of cargo and/or passengers

This list is by no means all-inclusive. Learn more about watercraft safety by taking a boating class. If you get injured while boating due to an at-fault party's negligence, you may need to file a claim for compensation.

Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, "Minnesota Boating Guide 2018," accessed June 01, 2018

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 JN Law Office of James R. Nethercut, P.A.

4527 Allendale Dr.
White Bear Lake, MN 55127

Phone: 612-504-5763
Fax: 651-426-9300
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