Where Is It Legal to Tie Up Your Boat?

by LegalFix
Posted: July 13, 2022
Admiralty and maritime law

Whether you’re officially a boat owner or are considering purchasing a boat, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with maritime laws and regulations in your area. One of the first things you’ll need to know is where you can legally tie your boat. Although the answer may seem simple, there are strict laws that boat owners must follow. Failure to adhere to maritime laws can result in a time-consuming case and costly legal fees which could have easily been avoided by following the proper regulations.

Boating should be a fun time for people to connect with friends and family while enjoying the ocean. But a stress-free situation can change quickly when boaters fail to comply with maritime laws in their area. When you’re armed with up-to-date legal information, you can rest assured that your boating excursion will proceed smoothly. If you’re wondering where you can legally tie up your boat or have any other legal questions about boating, read on to learn more about how you can safely and legally take your boat to the open sea.

What Are Mooring Buoys?

There are many different types of buoys, but a mooring buoy is not the same as the typical brightly-colored floating market in the ocean. These buoys have a heavier weight that anchors the buoy to one place.

Mooring a boat is quite simple. Follow these steps below to moor a boat:

  1. Move your boat to a place where you can easily see the buoy.

  2. Find the pick-up line and attach your hook to it.

  3. Guide your boat’s bowline through the pick-up line.

  4. Next, attach the ends of the bowline to the vessel’s cleat. Ensure that you do not use a stern tie to connect the boat to the moor, because this can cause damage.

  5. After tying your boat to the mooring buoy, ensure that the knots are tight.

It is of the utmost importance that you are anchoring your boat to a mooring buoy because it is illegal to tie your boat to the following buoys:

  • Regulatory buoys. You can tell which buoys are regulatory buoys because they are white with two horizontal orange stripes. You will notice a circular shape between the lines. Regulatory buoys exist to warn approaching boaters about restrictions or dangers.

  • Non-lateral markers. Vessels use non-lateral markers as navigational aids. You can tell which buoys are non-lateral markers because they have black letters along with orange and white markers.

  • Safe water markers. Some people refer to safe water markers as fairway buoys. You may identify these by their white and red vertical stripes.

Where Is It Legal to Anchor a Boat?

Unlike mooring or docking your boat, anchoring is the act of using your own anchor to secure the boat. Keep in mind that it is only safe to anchor your boat for a short period of time. For your safety, and the safety of others, it is crucial that you don’t leave your boat unattended for too long. In addition, you should familiarize yourself with boating laws in your area, so that you are aware of which areas are suitable for anchoring. If you fail to adhere to these laws, you may easily receive a citation.

In some areas, you may notice no-anchoring zones that boaters must keep open for commercial vessels to travel through. In some areas, local governments ban anchoring to ensure that there are no abandoned boats. When anchoring your boat in a legal area, make sure that the anchor light is on in low-visibility conditions.

Boating Laws

Upon purchasing a boat, you must know that there are laws that dictate more than where you can tie up your boat. Many boat owners are curious as to whether or not they can legally consume alcohol or carry a gun on their boat.

However, these laws depend on the state in which you’re boating. In most states, boat operators and passengers can consume alcohol, but the blood-alcohol content of the boat operator cannot exceed .08 percent. If you plan to consume alcohol while boating, check the blood alcohol limits in your state.

In regards to the legality of carrying a firearm, it is legal in most states. If your state-issued concealed-carry license allows you to open-carry your firearm, then you can legally take it with you on your boat.

State and Federal Maritime Laws

Essentially, it is legal for you to keep your boat at mooring buoys, boating docks, and other locations where your boat does not block traffic for commercial boats. Keep in mind that boating laws vary from state to state, so ensure that you perform adequate research about the boating laws in your specific area. This will prevent you from receiving a citation for anchoring or mooring your boat in a prohibited area.

Furthermore, federal and state laws and regulations that dictate which boating activities are allowed on any given body of water can vary greatly throughout the U.S. It is possible for waterways to cross multiple jurisdictions, so familiarize yourself with the laws for each jurisdiction. Failure to comply with state and federal maritime laws can incur hefty fines, so it’s in your best interest to fully understand the laws and regulations before taking your boat on any excursions.