The Canyon Lake Times Guardian

Kick off your boating summer right

By Peter A. Garcia
Staff Writer

This article, with information taken from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Web site,, contains information that boaters should know before putting their boat into the water.

This will ensure that everyone who comes to Canyon Lake will have a great water experience and will come back often.

The first thing a boat owner must do is to ensure that the boat is properly registered and titled.

Texas Registration and Title Requirements
• All motorized boats, regardless of length;
• All sailboats 14 feet in length or longer or any sailboat with an auxiliary engine(s);
• NEW — USCG Documented vessels; and
• All outboard motors must be titled.

* Title applications and manufacturer’s statement of origin (MSO) must accompany a request for boat registration for new boats and outboard motors.

To avoid unnecessary problems with Texas Parks and Wildlife officers properly display your boat’s registration number. Your watercraft’s registration number must be painted on, or otherwise attached to each side of the vessel, near the bow for easy identification. The watercraft’s registration number shall read from left to right in block characters not less than three inches in height and be of a color that contrasts with the watercraft’s hull. Additionally, the watercraft’s validation decal must be affixed in a line with and three (3) inches towards the rear of the boat from the registration number.

If you own a new USCG Documented Vessel you may only display the Validation Decal and not the Registration Number on both sides of the vessels bow and maintain current USCG Documentation. If you relinquish USCG Documentation you must display the state assigned TX numbers and the Validation Decal.

Basic water rules boaters should know:

Inspection of Vessels
In order to enforce water safety laws, game wardens and other peace officers certified as marine safety enforcement officers by TPWD, may stop, board, and inspect any vessel to determine compliance with provisions of the Water Safety Act.

Stop and Render Aid
The operator of any vessel involved in a boating accident must stop and render assistance unless such action endangers the operator’s vessel, crew or passengers. The operator must give his/her name, address and vessel identification number in writing to any injured person and to the owner of any damaged property.

Accidents or property damage exceeding $500 and casualties resulting from an accident must be reported within 30 days. Failure to file a report is punishable as a Parks and Wildlife Class C misdemeanor. Failure to file a report an accident that results in death or serious bodily injury within 30 days is punishable as a Parks and Wildlife Felony. Failure to file a report an accident that does not result in death or serious bodily injury is punishable as a Parks and Wildlife Class A misdemeanor.

Mandatory Boater Education
A TPWD certified boater education course and photo I.D. is required for any person born on or after September 1, 2020 to operate

(1) a vessel powered by motor of 10 horsepower or more; or
(2) a windblown vessel over 14 feet in length.
**Boater Education courses from other states are acceptable if NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) approved.

A person is exempt from the mandatory boater education requirement if the person
(1) is at least 18 years of age;
(2) is accompanied by a person at least 18 years of age who is exempt from the course or who has completed the course;
(3) holds a master’s, mate’s, or operator’s license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard; or
(4) is otherwise exempt by rule of the department.

If you are fishing off of your boat, everyone fishing must have his or her state fishing license on hand.

Required Safety Equipment
Operating Vessels Without Required Equipment Prohibited. No person may operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel that is not provided with the required safety equipment.

Lifesaving Devices
All Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, in serviceable condition, readily accessible, and of the appropriate size for intended user.

All children under 13 years of age in motorboats under 26 feet in length must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD while underway. Underway means not at anchor, made fast to the shore, or aground.

All vessels, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one Type I, II, III or V wearable PFD for each person on board. A Type V PFD is acceptable only if used in accordance with the specific instructions on the label of the device.

Vessels 16 feet and longer, excluding canoes and kayaks, are required to be equipped with one Type IV throwable PFD in addition to the Type I, II, III, or V PFD required for each person on board.

Inflatable PFDs are authorized only when used in accordance with requirements as presented on U.S. Coast Guard approval labels. Inflatable PFDs are not approved for use with personal watercraft, waterskiing, or other high speed activity.

Sound Producing Devices
Any vessel less than 12 meters in length (39.4 ft.) is required to carry a whistle or horn, or some other means to make an efficient sound to signal intentions and position in periods of reduced visibility. Vessels 12 meters or more in length are required to carry a whistle or horn, and a bell.

Mirrors Required
Every motorboat towing a person must have an observer, other than the operator, 13 years of age or older or be equipped with a rearview mirror of a size no less than four inches (4”) in measurement from bottom to top and across from one side to the other.

Lights Required
All vessels including motorboats, canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, rubber rafts, or other vessels when not at dock must have and exhibit at least one bright light, lantern or flashlight visible all around the horizon from sunset to sunrise in all weather and during restricted visibility.

Navigation Lights
Power Driven Vessels Underway: Power driven vessels of less than 20 meters (65.6 ft.) but more than 12 meters (39.4 ft.) shall exhibit navigation lights: a red and green light on the forward bow and an elevated white light aft and one above deck amid ship. Vessels of less than 12 meters in length, shall show: a red and green light on the forward bow and an elevated white light either aft or one above deck amid ship.

Manually Driven Vessels: Manually driven vessels when paddled, poled, oared, or windblown:
• A sailing vessel of less than 20 meters (65.6 ft.), while underway shall exhibit sidelights and a stern light which may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
• A sailing vessel of less than 7 meters (23 ft.) shall, if practicable, exhibit the sidelights and a stern light, or shall exhibit at least one bright light, lantern or flashlight from sunset to sunrise when not at dock.
• All other manually driven vessels may exhibit sidelights and a sternlight, or shall exhibit at least one bright light, lantern, or flashlight from sunset to sunrise when not at dock.

Fire Extinguishers Required
Outboard motorboats less than 26 feet in length, of open construction, not carrying passengers for hire, are not required to carry fire extinguishers; however, a fire extinguisher is required if one or more of the following conditions exist:
(1) Closed compartment under thwarts and seats wherein portable fuel tanks may be stored.
(2) Double bottoms not sealed to the hull or which are not completely filled with flotation material.
(3) Closed living spaces.
(4) Closed storage compartments in which combustible or flammable materials are stored.
(5) Permanently installed fuel tanks.
(6) Inboard engines.

U.S. Coast Guard approved extinguishers are identified by the following marking on the label: “Marine Type USCG approved, Size .... Type ::::, 162.028/.../” Check extinguishers annually to assure that they are properly charged.

NOTE: All fire extinguishers must be readily accessible and in condition for immediate and effective use at all times.

Fire extinguishers approved for motorboats are hand-portable, of either B (for gasoline, oil & grease fires) or BC (also extinguishes electrical fires) classification.

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