Before heading out on the water, it’s important to understand the requirements to drive a boat. Horsepower restrictions for young boaters differ slightly depending on the age of the operator and the horsepower of the boat. Here’s a breakdown of age and horsepower restrictions:

Under 12 Years Old

Boaters under 12, with proof of competency such as a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, can operate a boat without supervision as long as the engine is not more than 10 hp. Operators under 12 years of age are not allowed to operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC), such as a jet-ski or sea-doo, under any conditions.

Horsepower Restrictions for Boaters Under 12

12 -16 Years Old

Boaters 12 to under 16 years of age, with proof of competency, can operate a boat without supervision as long as the engine is not more than 40 hp. Boat operators in this age range are not allowed to operate a PWC under any conditions.

Horsepower Restrictions for Boaters 12 to under 16

16 Years of Age and Older

Boat operators 16 years of age or older can operate a boat without supervision or horsepower restrictions. They can also operate a PWC provided they have obtained proof of competency, commonly referred to as a boating license.

Horsepower Restrictions for Boaters Over 16

Supervision Requirements

If an operator is accompanied and directly supervised in a boat (not a PWC) by a person who is at least 16 years of age and both boaters have proof of competency onboard, such as their PCOC, the age and horsepower restrictions do not apply. Operators under 16 years of age are not permitted to operate a PWC, even if supervised.