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WI Boating Laws

View ‘The Handbook! Of Wisconsin Boating Laws and Responsiblities’ (click HERE).

Do I (or my child) need a license to operate a motorized boat?


Anyone born after January 1, 1989 is required to take a boater’s safety course to legally operate a boat or personal watercraft (PWC) in the state of Wisconsin. Anyone is eligible to take a boater safety class and receive a safety education completion certificate. The certificate is not valid for a child until he or she is 12 years old.

Buoy Navigation


SAWM places buoys on the lake, channel and river for your safety. Please adhere to the following rules at all times:

  • The purpose of SLOW NO WAKE buoys is obvious but they are an important part of safe boating on the lake, channel and rivers.

  • If you see black and white vertical striped buoys, keep them on your left (port) side. Think of them like a centerline of a two-way road. The black and white vertical stripe buoys are designating a channel through shallow or excessively weedy areas.  Staying near them will get you through these areas safely. On Shawano Lake they are located on “northwest corner of lake” and on the “southwest area of the lake - west of the Bamboo Bar”.

  • If you see red and green buoys, stay between them.

 As a reminder, the cost of maintaining the buoys and lights is a significant expense covered by SAWM. The cost of a buoy is $146 and the cost of a single light for a buoy or bridge is $277. Please use caution when navigating near the buoys! Running over a buoy is an offense that will result in a fine. 

We appreciate your cooperation. Have a fun and safe boating season!


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