Now that we’re in the midsts of May, it’s time to start thinking your summer plans. Are you planning a getaway with family or friends? Do you want to make this summer memorable? While the weather in Buford is quickly heating up as it is through all of Georgia, you’re probably already planning on taking a boat out for Memorial Day weekend. Since summer is coming in so swiftly, the idea of laying out on a watercraft while boating is almost too much to bear. Instead of working your nine-to-five job, all you can think about is boating across Lake Lanier. However, before you commit to your summer plans, take the time to re-acquaint yourself with boating rules and regulations in the State of Georgia.

Freedom Boat Club is unlike other boating clubs in the area. Instead of bringing your own boating vessel, you’re able to rent one at our marina. From pontoon boats to speed boats, you’ll be able to find a watercraft that’s just right for your needs. Additionally, whether or not you have a large or a small party, our boating club is meant to accommodate your needs. In the Lake Lanier area, you’ll also find a wide array of things to do. Instead of staying in the air conditioning this summer, take the time to visit our boating club for the weekend and indulge in some enjoyable activities.

A Brief Overview On What You Need As A Boating Operator

While operating a boat, it’s imperative that you and your loved ones stay safe. After all, mishaps happen on boats all the time and it’s best to practice the utmost safety while on a water vessel. To help you and your family stay safe, we’ve decided to cover a topic that not many people may know about: driving a boat in Georgia. What are the rules? Who can do it? Is it actually enforced?

First of all, yes, Georgia law enforcement officers do in fact enforce the laws and guidelines on boating safety. It’s just like any other place you’d operate a vessel. You’ll want to cooperate with the waterway patrol people just like you would with a police officer. The person who is operating a boat will want to carry a card that shows that you’ve gone through the Boater Education program and received a Boater Education Card. The card should be carried while you’re on board the vessel and it should be available for a waterway patrol person to inspect. If you don’t have a Boater Education Card, then you could get a fine.

A Boater Education Card shows that you’ve gone through all of the appropriate programs and have successfully completed them to allow you to go boating and know the safety laws in Georgia. A Boating Education Card is unlike a license because it doesn’t have to be renewed and it doesn’t expire. Additionally, it’s not considered to be a Georgia Boating License. While not all boaters need a Boater Education Card, a lot of boaters take the courses to ensure they are safe and to save on boating insurance.

The Ages For Those Who Can Operate A Boat

So now that we gave you a brief overview, we’ll dive into who can actually operate a boating vessel. If your 17-year-old child and his friends want to go boating, are they allowed to do so? If you want to take a cute picture of your 13-year-old behind the wheel, can you get in trouble? Below gives you the break down of who can operate a boat in the State of Georgia.

Under 12 Years Of Age

While it might be cute to have your five year old drive the boat as you take a video or pictures, it’s not always a great idea. Those who are under the age of 12 cannot operate a boating vessel that is over 16 feet in length. If the vessel is under 16 feet in length, but it’s not motorized or powered by a 30 horsepower motor or less, then a person 12 years or younger can operate the vessel as long as a competent adult is nearby.

12 Through 15 Years Of Age

If a person is between 12 and 15 years of age, then they may operate a boating vessel that’s less than 16 feet in length as long as they have passed a boating education course that’s been approved by the Department Of Natural Resources or an adult is with them. They are not allowed to operate a vessel that’s over 16 feet long even if they have gotten a Boater Education Card.

16 Years Or Older

For those who are over 16 years of age, they can operate a vessel in Georgia waters if they have the right identification onboard. Those who are born after January 1, 2002 have to go through the boater education course through the Department Of Natural Resources and receive a Boater Education Card to keep on board while driving a boat.

Keep in mind that a competent adult is someone who is over 18 years of age and is not using drugs or alcohol. They must also carry proper identification, which is a driver license that’s issued by the government and has a photograph, birth date, and a description of the person. For further information on driving and boating on Lake Lanier, take the time to ask one of our staff at Freedom Boat Club.