Boating Safety Rules

Thurston County has specific regulations regarding boating operations and water safety on lakes. Below are key provisions wear a life vestof Chapter 16.04.

  • Speeds over 5 mph. are allowed only from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. or official sunset, whichever comes first. (The U.S.  Naval Observatory Web site allows viewers to estimate sunrise and sunset times.)
  • The maximum speed limit is 45 mph in the open basins.
  • After sunset, all crafts must use proper running lights.
  • Crafts operating over 5 mph must be at least 200 feet off the shoreline. This must be observed because swimmers and nonmotorized craft tend to gather within the 200-foot safety zone. This rule also reduces the impact of wakes upon shore banks.Thurston County has specific regulations regarding boating operations and water safety on lakes.
  • Crafts operating over 5 mph, including personal watercraft or "jet skis," must also remain at least 100 feet away from all other craft and persons.
  • All watercraft must travel in a counter-clockwise direction.
  • All water skiers must have at least three people: a driver, an observer, and a skier. The observer is required to watch the skier at all times and to use a red or orange flag to signal when a skier is down in the water. All water skiers are required to wear an approved flotation device.
  • Personal flotation devices must be on-board all watercraft, with one device required for each person and easily accessible. Children 12 years old and younger must wear a personal flotation device at all times if traveling on a vessel that is shorter than 19 feet.
  • You must be at least 16 years of age to operate a personal watercraft legally
  • Must carry a Washington State Boater Education card
  • All personal watercraft (or "jet ski") operators must wear an approved flotation device.
  • It is illegal to operate any craft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Don't forget to check your boat for Eurasian Watermilfoil!  Click here for more information from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Contact Us

 Staff contact: Janie Civille (360) 786-5830. E-mail: civillj@co.thurston.wa.us