State Police Remind Personal Watercraft Operators Of Law Changes

STATE – State Police officials remind personal watercraft operators that New Jersey personal watercraft laws have recently changed.  The law now states that a person is not permitted to operate a personal watercraft above minimum headway speed within 100 feet of buoys or signs that mark the boundaries of a swimming area, the shoreline, any person in the water, or residential dwelling units.

Additionally, personal watercraft are not permitted to be operated in such a manner so as to make the vessel completely leave the water or otherwise become airborne within 100 feet of another vessel.


Preexisting laws that remain unaffected by the recent changes require that personal watercraft be operated only between sunrise and sunset and during times of good visibility.  Personal watercraft are not permitted to be operated within the confines of the Point Pleasant Canal in Ocean County, or the Cape May Canal in Cape May County.

Personal watercraft operators must be at least 16 years of age, and must have a boating safety certificate in their possession.

Shrewsbury River Slow Speed/No Wake Area
On Jan. 13, 2010, the New Jersey Boat Regulation Commission authorized making the entire width of the Shrewsbury River, between the Highlands Bridge and buoy 28 (near Gunning Island), a slow speed/no wake area.  This action came at the regularly scheduled Boat Regulation Commission meeting, held at the Cecil Norton Recreation Center, Sea Bright, New Jersey.  The action was taken at the request of local governing bodies and local citizens.

The temporary measure states “The area of the Shrewsbury River from the Highlands Bridge at Highlands to Buoy No. 28 at Rumson is designated as a slow speed no wake zone for all power vessels, except law enforcement and emergency vessels.”  The measure is temporary.  At the end of the boating season, the Commission must determine if the rule should be made permanent, if it should be changed in some manner, or if it should be rescinded.  Prior to the recent rule change, much of the affected area was already considered to be a slow speed/no wake area, either due to the proximity of area marinas, docks and bridges, or due to the prior designation of much of the area as a “temporary” slow speed/no wake area.

New Jersey regulations require the operator of every power vessel to reduce speed to “slow speed/no wake” when passing within 200 feet of a marina, pier, dock, wharf or abutment; when passing work boats engaged in work related activity; when passing through bridge openings of 400 feet or less; when traveling through lagoons, canals and confined areas less than 200 feet in width; when passing vessels not under command; when passing emergency vessels displaying emergency lights; or when passing vessels engaged in certain recognized activities and  displaying rotating or sequential flashing red and yellow lights.

In addition to the restrictions stated above, an area may be designated as a “temporary slow speed/no wake area” based on factors such as congestion, visibility, and safety.  These areas may be marked with a slow speed/no wake buoy or sign.  All vessels moving through a slow speed/no wake area must reduce their speed to “no wake speed” when operating within the designated area, or when operating within 200 feet of a slow speed/no wake buoy or sign.

In New Jersey, “slow speed/no wake” is defined as the speed at which a vessel moves through the water and is able to maintain minimum headway in relation to the vessel or structure being passed and producing the minimum wake possible.

For more information on boating safety topics, please visit the New Jersey State Police web site at

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