Changes simplify language, mirror federal laws
TOPEKA -- This spring, the 2006 Kansas State Legislature passed a bill involving recreational boating laws, and the bill was signed into law by the Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The law addresses several issues that will benefit boaters.

The law clarifies several legal boating terms, as well as updating language to reflect other state and federal guidelines, making them more understandable to the average boater. These definitions include "boat livery," "cargo," "state of principle use," "use," "abandoned vessels," and a definition for "direct and audible supervision." Lighting definitions also were updated to mirror the federal language, which simplifies definitions for different types of lighting using degrees instead of minutes on a compass. This change will not require boat owners to change any current method of boat light operations.

In addition to updated definitions, a number of other boating requirements are addressed, including the following:

  • documented vessels must be registered with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and display an expiration decal, but are not required to display a registration number;
  • the requirement for a class II vessel (26 to less than 40 ft.) motorboat to carry a bell on board was removed, but every motorboat -- including personal watercraft -- must still carry an efficient whistle or other sound-producing device on board;
  • the time allowed for water skiing was changed, restricting skiing hours to one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Also, the tow vessel must display a bright orange or red "skier down" flag when preparing to ski and when retrieving a fallen skier;
  • motorboats must be muffled in compliance with the new state law. Any vessel that emits a sound level in excess of 86 decibels must have a muffler; and
  • other portions of the law make it illegal to alter a boat's hull identification number and deal with abandoned vessels. Procedures for law enforcement and department personnel to handle these situations are also addressed.

These new laws will not only help the Department of Wildlife and Parks provide the safest environment for boating, they will make it easier for all boaters to understand what is required. For more information, phone 620-672-5911 and ask for Boating.