With the Fourth of July holiday weekend coming up, the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section and the Office of Boating Safety would like to remind First State residents and visitors to take safety precautions while they enjoy Delaware’s waterways.


With the Fourth of July holiday weekend coming up, the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section and the Office of Boating Safety would like to remind First State residents and visitors to take safety precautions while they enjoy Delaware’s waterways.

Among them are to refrain from drinking and boating.

“Drinking while boating is a choice," Boating Safety Officer Sgt. Gregory Rhodes said. "The best way to minimize the risk of an accident is to make the wise choice – don’t drink and boat."

Among the important tips boaters should keep in mind:

Life jackets save lives. Delaware law requires that children age 12 and younger wear them while underway in any vessel on Delaware waters, and that vessels carry enough life jackets for the number of persons aboard. Though adults are not legally required to wear life jackets, the Office of Boating Safety encourages wearing them, especially for those with limited swimming skills. Boat operators should get to know correct operating procedures for their boat, because even small mistakes can lead to serious consequences.  Personal watercraft are boats too – and should be operated following the same rules as for larger vessels.  For all vessels, operators should avoid excessive speed, especially in heavy traffic areas, keep a lookout for other boaters and share the waterways safely and responsibly. Although it is not illegal for recreational boaters to consume alcohol, operators found to be at or over the blood alcohol limit of 0.08 face fines and potential jail time, and also put themselves and their passengers at risk.  Those who choose to consume alcohol while boating are encouraged to have a non-drinking designated boat operator aboard.

A boating safety course is a great way to learn the rules of the water, DNREC spokeswoman Joanna Wilson said. Boaters are also reminded that under Delaware law, all persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 must successfully complete a boating safety course in order to operate a boat in Delaware waters, including personal watercraft.

The Office of Boating Safety provides volunteer instructors to private and non-profit organizations, schools, clubs and the public to educate boaters on skills and seamanship and to encourage them to be safe, knowledgeable and responsible, she said. Courses range from adult boating safety with online options to school programs for kids in grades K-12, such as water safety (K-3 and 4-8) and “Fatal Vision,” which educates high schoolers on the dangers of drinking and driving a boat. Courses are offered free of charge, including materials and educational aids.

For more information on the state’s boating safety education courses, please visit click here, or contact Sgt. Rhodes at (302) 739-9913 or gregory.rhodes@state.de.us.