Water Sports Regulations: What You Need to Know
As we head into the height of the summer yachting season, yacht owners and charterers are keen to hit the water – and what better way to do so than with a yacht’s fantastic selection of water toys?
The regulations surrounding water sports vary from country to country – with most focusing on PWC’s (personal water craft) such as Jet Skis – and it is important that all yacht guests and crew follow these rules. Here we look at the water sports regulations in some of the most popular yachting destinations in the Mediterranean and beyond.
Yacht charters in Croatia continue to grow in popularity due to the country’s array of historical towns and stunning beach-lined bays, however all yachts must be aware of the rules surrounding Jet Skis and other water toys.
The driver of any personal watercraft in Croatia must be 16 years of age or older and hold a valid PWC license. All PWC must have registration and insurance papers, and all users must wear a life jacket and be recorded on a user’s list. In additional, all tenders and Jet Skis must have a Croatian Permit. While there is no speed limit, all PWC must remain at least 300m from the shoreline, and water sports are not permitted within ports or national park areas.
One of the most popular yachting destinations in the world, the azure waters in the South of France are busy with Jet Skis and other water toys during the summer months, with regulations in place to ensure the safety of all users.
Once again, a Jet Ski driver must be 16+ and must hold a valid license, keeping a distance of 300m from the shore. Personal water craft can only be used during daylight hours (until 20:00), must have "tender to..." clearly visible and can only be used in sight of the yacht. There are also further rules around water skiing and wakeboarding, with at least two persons required on board any vessel that is towing a water skier.
An evergreen destination, Greece has huge appeal for a relaxed yachting experience. While the Jet Ski regulations in Greece are similar to those of many other Mediterranean countries, there are a few standout rules.
Jet Skis and other personal water craft should not be used within 300m of shore and must not exceed a speed of three knots in port until they reach the 300m mark. Like in many other countries, drivers of PWC must be over the age of 16 and hold a valid Jet Ski license. However, one rule more specific to Greece is that PWC may not be used between the hours of 13:30 and 18:00 in built up areas as this is considered ‘afternoon relaxation time’. Although other water sports are allowed, the use of Jet Skis is not permitted around the island of Paros.
Another destination well-known for yachting and water sports, Italy’s personal water craft regulations vary by region. Countrywide, drivers of tenders and PWC must be at least 18 years old and carry a valid license. PWC must be kept at least 500m from shore, and all users must wear safety equipment including a life vest and helmet.
Venice, Naples, Capri and the Amalfi Coast all have their own personal water craft regulations, including specific operating hours, time of year and areas in which PWC are permitted. PWC are banned completely in many regions, including Ischia, Cinque Terre, the Maddalena Islands and more – restricted areas should always be confirmed with the local harbour office or coast guard.
Home to a range of popular holiday and yachting destinations, Spain requires the driver of any personal water craft to hold one of three local licenses, based on the horsepower of the craft, as well as valid insurance. Drivers of PWC must be over the age of 18 (ages 16 and 17 require written confirmation from a guardian) and all users must wear a suitable life vest and carry one piece of ID at all times. Use of Jet Skis and other PWC must be during daylight hours in good weather, and navigation in swimming areas, ports and regatta zones is not permitted. Although it varies by region, most areas of the Spanish coast require that PWC are operated no closer than 300m from shore and 150m from any other vessel.
The Balearic Islands require a distance of 200m from shore or 100m from other vessels before exceeding a speed of five knots and a method of communication such as a handheld radio or mobile phone must be carried at all times. In addition, beach drop-offs and pick-ups are not permitted, and there are further regulations regarding water skiing and wakeboarding.
With so many secluded islands and stunning destinations to discover, a Jet Ski is the perfect way to explore the warm waters of the Bahamas. Drivers of PWC in the Bahamas must be at least 18 years of age and hold a valid license, and all users must wear life vests. Personal water craft must remain at least 200ft from shore and 100ft from any divers down flag, as well as keeping an adequate distance from any anchored vessel. Boarding and disembarking from shore may only be done within designated areas, and wave jumping, or other dangerous activities are prohibited.
UNITED STATES (FLORIDA)
In Florida, personal water craft regulations state that nobody under the age of 14 may operate a PWC, while anyone aged 21 and under is required to have a boating safety education ID and photo ID card on their person while operating. In addition, every user of a PWC must be wearing an approved life vest, and the driver must be attached to a cut-off switch. Jet Skis and other PWC may only be operated during daylight hours and reckless driving is strictly forbidden. No personal water craft are allowed within the following National Refuge Areas of the Lower Florida Keys: Key Deer National Refuge, Great White Heron National Refuge, and the Key West Refuge.
For more information on water sports regulations in these or any other destinations, please don’t hesitate to contact us.