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ABA Boat Maintenance & Repair Questions and Responses

The information contained herein is the opinion of ABA member and marine mechanic Tim Harrington of Madison Marine Service, Harwich, Massachusetts. Tim is responding to a question solely based on the information an ABA member provided. Neither ABA, nor Tim Harrington, nor Madison Marine Service assume any responsibility or liability for events that occur due to actions you or others on your behalf take based on the information given in Tim's response.  You are proceeding at your own risk.

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Q: What is the H.P. range that a 13 year old can drive by himself, if he just got his license?

A. I would start by saying SAFETY FIRST. There are boat handling and safety classes for boaters under the age of 16 available. I would look to the Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron as well as your local marine fisheries or Department of Natural Resources division to provide you with information on what classes are available for junior boaters in your area. You can access the Coast Guard and Power Squadron through ABA's website at www.americanboating.org/links.htm; go to the Boating Safety section and you'll see both listed there. In my area, Cape Cod, most of the kids at that age are in little runabouts, with horsepower in the range of 5-25 horsepower. Certainly, only you and your family can make the decision on how much power your 13-year-old can handle based on the amount of his knowledge, experience, and maturity. The most important thing is to teach safety, wearing of life preservers, etc. I hope this puts you in the right direction and gives your young one a start in a lifetime of boating.

Q. Is there a regulation stating how many adults must be on a boat when minors are present? (i.e. 5 minors with 1 adult)

A. I have received your question regarding the number of adults and children in a boat. Since boating laws can vary from state to state, my suggestion would be to contact your state boating office. In Indiana, the boating office is in the Department of Natural Resources. The web address is http://www.in.gov/dnr.

While keeping within what the state law says regarding the adult to minor ratio, you also have to use your best judgment. Depending on the age and maturity of the minors, you may want to have more adults in the vessel than the law calls for. Also, make sure that all minors wear properly fitted life vests. It is always a good idea for all adults to also wear a life vest.

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