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Boating Etiquette by gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

June 24, 2022

Most Midwestern states, Including South Dakota have Boating Rules, Regulations and information on Boat Etiquette that you should know about

There are some unwritten rules when it comes to boating etiquette that are used by both anglers and boaters and if one of those waiting in line to launch their boats while another boater blocks the ramp because he didn’t follow those unwritten rules.

  Nothing irritates others than to have a boat & trailer backed down blocking the launch as they unload their vehicle into the boat, holding up other boaters, while they do what should have been done in the driveway before they headed out.

  Another thing, that at times can’t be helped, happens when an individual who hasn’t done much backing, who has a tough time getting his trailer and boat down to the dock. and then once its there, the individual is by himself with no help to move the boat from the dock.

  When this happens, I’ll volunteer to help them out by taking his vehicle and trailer up to park it, so he can then lock it up with his remote and get his boat out of the way.

  All midwestern states have rules for boaters as well as what’s needed in the boat to be legal on the water.

  Below are the top 10 Things to Remember when Boating in South Dakota:

  1. Complete proper boat registration and numbering before heading out onto the water.
    No one may operate or give permission to operate a non-motorized boat over 12 feet in length or a motorboat of any length on South Dakota waters unless a valid registration decal is displayed on each side of the bow of the boat.  All motorboats also must have proper numbering displayed on each side of the bow of the boat. Non-motorized boats over 18 feet in length must also display proper numbering and registration decals on each side of the bow of the boat.
  2. Ensure all required safety equipment are on board and in proper working order. 
    Safety equipment includes; lifejackets or personal flotation devices, throwable device, fire extinguishers, navigation lights, whistle or sounding devices. 
  3. Wear your life jacket. All boats/vessels, regardless of size, need to have a properly sized lifejacket for every person on board. Boats and vessels include anything used outside of a designated swimming area to keep a person afloat. These other vessels may include, but are not limited to paddleboards, kayaks, canoes or inflatable rafts.
  4. Do not overload your boat. Always check the capacity plate on a vessel. This plate is usually found near the operator’s position or on the vessel’s transom. It indicates the maximum weight capacity, maximum number of people the vessel can carry safely, and maximum horsepower. (On vessels under 20 feet in length without a capacity plate, you can use the following rule of thumb to calculate the number of persons that a vessel can carry safely in good weather conditions.

        5. Number of people = vessel length (ft) X vessel width (ft) / 15.)

  1. Operate your boat in a safe and careful manner. South Dakota law prohibits careless and reckless boat operation. Some common examples of these seen in South Dakota include; allowing occupants in a boat to ride in a manner or locations (bow/transom) that jeopardize their safety when the boat is underway; operating at unreasonable speeds near beaches, fishing boats, docks; operating in such a way that creates an undue hazard to other boats or swimmers.
  2. Never boat under the influence (BUI). Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. South Dakota law prohibits anyone from boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The state blood alcohol content legal limit for operating a vessel under the influence is illegal, Please Have a designated driver
  3. Know your navigation rules. If you are operating a boat or personal watercraft on one of our water resources, it is your responsibility to know the navigation rules and to take actions necessary to avoid collisions. When boating at night, be aware of lights from other vessels on               

          There are four common lights for navigation:

1.Sidelights are red and green lights visible to an oncoming boat from the side or straight ahead. 

2. All around white light (most common in South Dakota) is able to be seen from any direction. 

3. Stern light is white light that can be seen from behind the boat. 

4. Masthead light is a forward-shining white light located on the mast of a sailboat and required on all powerboats. (The all-around white light is commonly used in leu of the masthead and the stern light)

  1. Personal Watercrafts or PWC safety is important. Operators and occupants on a PWC must wear a USCG-approved PFD or lifejacket (inflatable PFDs are not approved for PWCs). 
    Did you know that most PWCs do not allow “off throttle” steering? To steer a PWC, the engine must be running and you must apply the throttle. If your PWC is at idle or the engine is off, turning the steering column will not result in a change of course. Some new PWC’s do allow for off-throttle steering. Most PWCs also have an emergency ignition safety switch with a lanyard attached to it. It is illegal to operate your PWC without properly attaching the lanyard between the switch and yourself in South Dakota
  2. Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Pull your drain plugs, live wells and bait wells to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Boat drain plugs must be opened and removed except when on the water, launching or loading or while in the boat ramp parking area.
  3. Take  boating safety course. Although a boating safety course is not required to operate a boat in South Dakota, it is highly recommended that you complete an approved course. 

These rules are for South Dakota, so be sure to check the state’s rules for the body of water your on in order to make sure that you have the rules for the state you’re boating and fishing on.

Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award- winning writer, producer, photographer and broadcaster and in 2017 was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.”

 He developed and was the Producer-Host for 23 years of his award winning gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and the Host of the award-winning Outdoor Adventures radio program carried on Classic Hits 106.3, ESPN Sports Radio 1570 in Southeastern South Dakota, KWYR Country 93 AM and Magic 93 FM in Central South Dakota, As well as on KCHE 92.1 FM in Northwest Iowa.  If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out www.GaryHowey’ , and, with more information on these Facebook pages, Gary Howey, Gary E Howey, Outdoor Adventure Radio, Team Outdoorsmen Productions.





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