Kentucky State Watercraft Regulations

Regarding Muffling Devices and PWCs (rules effective untill March 2000)


Kentucky law requires all boats to be equipped with effective exhaust muffling devices. Usually, boats and motors that come direct from the manufacturer are adequately muffled. However, there may be instances of high performance boats that have been modified by the owners that are not in compliance with the law. Additionally, there may be federal and/or local regulations restricting boats with an over-the-transom exhaust system.


The term "personal watercraft" (PWC) means a vessel which uses an internal combustion engine to power a jet pump for its primary source of propulsion and is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling on the vessel rather than by a person sitting or standing inside the vessel. They are known by brand names such as Jet Skis, Wet Bikes, Wave Runners, Sea Doos, etc. In addition to being governed by the same laws that apply to all boats, the following laws apply to personal watercraft:

-- Personal watercraft can only be operated between sunrise and sunset. .

--Personal watercraft without self-circling capability must have a lanyard-type engine kill switch attached to the operator when the craft is underway.

-- Operators and passengers must wear a U-S- Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD.)

Because of their small size and low profile, operators of PWCs should exercise defensive driving. These craft are highly responsive and capable of quick turns. However, this kind of operation is reckless if done in congested areas of boat traffic.

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