Maine Game Wardens encourage all boaters to wear a PFD and stay safe while boating this Memorial Day Weekend

AUGUSTA – Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of the boating season in Maine for many, and the Maine Warden Service is urging all boaters to wear your life jacket, boat safely, and if you are under 25 years of age, complete a boating safety education course.

“Memorial Day Weekend is often the first time of the year that many boaters in Maine head out on the water to enjoy our many lakes, ponds and rivers,” said Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “Boating is a wonderful way to enjoy the Maine outdoors, and we want to ensure that it is safe and enjoyable for everyone out on the water.”

Before heading out on the water this year, please make sure that:

  • You have the proper safety equipment, including Personal Floatation Devices for everyone on board.
  • That your motorized boat is registered and displays a lake and river protection sticker.
  • You are familiar with the proper operation of the boat.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • If your boat has an engine cut off switch, please wear the lanyard.

MDIFW also encourages all boaters to take a boating safety course. These courses are available online and in person. For more information on courses, please visit

New this year, a person born on or after January 1, 1999, may not operate a motorboat greater than 25 horsepower for recreational boating purposes on inland waters of this state or territorial waters, unless that person is 12 years of age or older and has completed a boater safety and education course. These persons must possess and present a boater safety and education course certificate for inspection upon request to a law enforcement officer.

There are a few exemptions, such as for registered Maine guides (hunting, fishing, and recreational guides only), commercial fishermen, daily boat renters, and merchant mariners. For more information, please see the frequently asked questions regarding this new law. A person born after Jan. 1, 1999 is also required to complete a boater safety and education course and be at least 16 years of age to operate a personal watercraft (such as a jet ski) on inland waters and territorial waters of the State or to supervise a person under 12 years of age who is operating a motorboat.

Each year, approximately half of Maine’s boating deaths involve non-motorized watercraft such as canoes and kayaks with the paddler not wearing a personal floatation device (also known as a PFD or Life Jacket). Even the strongest swimmers lose the ability to stay afloat when immersed in cold water for a period of time. Please be sure to wear your PFD.

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