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Statewide and Local Regulations

Boat Numbering 

All Motorboats and Sailboats 12' and Longer
Operators must carry a valid boat registration card (Certificate of Number) on Board. The boat registration number (e.g. OR 123 ABC) and registration stickers belong on the right and left sides of the front of the boat. 

Mooring Requirement
Current registration is required on all motorboats and sailboats 12' and longer on Oregon's waterways (OAR 830-700, OAR 250-010-0051).


Responsibilities of a boat operator at an accident scene: (ORS 830.475, 830.480, OAR 250-010-0110)
  • Anyone involved in a boat accident must give the name, address, other required information, and aid to the injured person(s), including transportation to a hospital if the treatment appears necessary or is requested by the injured person(s).
  • Leaving a boat accident scene before performing the duties of a boat operator is a Class C felony punishable by five years in jail and/or a $100,000 fine.
  • Boat operators involved in an accident resulting in death, injury or property damage exceeding $2000 must report the accident to the State Marine Board on a Marine Board Accident Report Form
    • within 48 hours of an accident resulting in death or injury
    • within 10 days of the accident causing property/equipment damage only.
Occupants are responsible for making an accident report when the operator is physically incapable of doing so.

Marine Patrols

 A boat approaching or being approached by a marine law enforcement vessel with a flashing blue light or siren must immediately slow and alter its course so as not to interfere with the operation of the law enforcement vessel (OAR 250-011-0005(6)). A peace officer may ask to stop any boat and direct it to a suitable pier or anchorage for boarding. No person shall knowingly flee or attempt to elude any law enforcement officer after having received a signal from a law enforcement officer to bring the boat to a stop. (ORS 830.035).

Rules Governing Boat Operations: 

Unsafe operation (ORS 830.305)

Unsafe operation is operating a boat in a manner that endangers or would likely endanger a person or property. Example of violation: Your boat wake causes a canoe to nearly capsize.

Reckless Operation (ORS 830.315(1))

It is a crime to operate a boat carelessly in willful disregard for others. Example of violation: Pulling a skier through an area where swimmers are present in spite of the boat exclusion buoys.

Reckless Operation-Speed (ORS 830.315(2)) 

A violation occurs if, due to a boat’s speed, it cannot be stopped by reasonable means in the clear distance ahead. Example of violation: Your boat runs over, or into, an object because you are traveling too fast to stop in time.

Maintaining a proper lookout. (ORS 830.335) 

The operator of a boat shall keep a proper lookout at all times while underway. Example of violation: Pulling and watching the skier, not the water ahead.

Overloading a boat beyond safe carrying capacity is prohibited (ORS 830.355, OAR 250-010-0085) 

If your boat has a capacity plate, follow that recommendation for capacity; otherwise, use the formula on page 9. State law conforms to federal law requiring capacity plates on vessels.

Basic proximity rule for Slow –No Wake (OAR 250-010-0025) 

Operators of boats must observe Slow -No Wake, within 200’ of a boat ramp, marina or moorage with a capacity for six or more vessels; a floating home moorage with six or more structures; or people working at water level. The operator may be liable for damage caused by the wake. This rule does not apply to commercial vessels or river navigation when more speed is needed to ensure safe passage.

Dockside Rental Safety Checklist (OAR 250-018-0060)  

All persons operating a rented watercraft greater than 10 hp must carry a signed copy of the “Watercraft Rental Safety Checklist" unless they are carrying a boater education card. All other provisions of the Mandatory Boater Education Program apply, including minimum operator ages and supervision of youth. 

Riding on bows, decks, gunwales, or transoms of a motorboat (ORS 830.360, OAR 830.362)

  • Riding on bow, transom, or gunwale railings while underway is prohibited.  No person operating a motorboat shall allow any person to ride or sit on the deck over the bow of the boat while underway unless the motorboat is provided with adequate guards or railing.  No person operating a motorboat shall allow a person to ride or sit on the starboard or port gunwales or on the transom of the boat while underway at a speed in excess of 5 MPH unless the motorboat is provided with adequate guards or railings.
  • Standing on decking over the bow is allowed for mooring or casting off.  This also applies to a boat rigged and equipped as a sailboat when operating under sail power. [Formerly 488.140].

Prohibited actions when water skiing or using other towed devices (ORS 830.365)

  • Reckless, negligent riding of towed devices endangering persons or property.
  • Water skiing or towing devices from sunset to sunrise.
  • Operation of towing boat or other devices that may lead to the potential collision of a water skier with a person or object.
  • Water skiing while under the influence of intoxicants. 
  • Towing skier (including on a PWC) without continuous observation of the skier by an observer.
  • Operating without a “skier down” flag.
Operation of a boat, including non-motorized boats, while under the influence of intoxicants is prohibited on all waterways. (ORS 830.325)  

Boaters should be aware that: 
  • by operating a boat, you have consented to submit to field sobriety tests;
  • a blood alcohol level of .08 or more is considered “under the influence”;
  • bail schedules for the alleged offense range from $3,500 to $6,250;
  • operating under the influence is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, a boater faces a maximum penalty of $6,250 and/or 1 year in jail;
  • a conviction for Boating Under the Influence is equivalent and counts toward any of the first three arrests for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants.
  • upon conviction, offending operators have all boat registrations in their name suspended for up to 3 years, are not allowed to operate a boat for 1 year, and are required to complete a boating safety course;
  • a person who knowingly operates a boat in violation of a court order for a conviction of ORS 830.325 commits a Class A misdemeanor. 

Especially Hazardous Conditions (ORS 830.380, 830.383)

Peace officers observing a boat being operated on Oregon waters in an especially hazardous condition may order the operator to move to the nearest safe moorage and remain there until the condition is remedied.  An especially hazardous condition is:
  • Improper or insufficient personal flotation devices, fire extinguishers, backfire arresting devices on carburetors, or navigation lights between sunset and sunrise. 
  • Overloading.
  • Overpowering.
  • Leakage of fuel from the boat engine, fuel system, or fuel in the bilge.

Personal Watercraft (PWC)

The following table lists which rivers and river sections ARE OPEN to personal watercraft use.  All other rivers NOT listed are closed to PWC (OAR 250-021-0040).
Personal Watercraft open areas on select rivers to operate: 
  • Alsea Downstream from Hatchery Creek (approx. RM 12). 
  • Chetco Below the head of the tide. 
  • Clackamas From the river mouth to Clackamette Lake (RM 0.7). 
  • Columbia Entire river. 
  • Coos Below its confluence with the Millicoma River.
  • Coquille Downstream from the Hwy 42 S bridge at the City of Coquille. 
  • Deschutes Between Heritage Landing boat ramp (RM 0.5) and the Columbia River. 
  • John Day (Sherman/Gilliam County) below Tumwater Falls (RM 10). 
  • Kilchis Downstream from the Parks boat ramp at Hwy 101 bridge. Speed limit. 
  • Miami Downstream from the Hwy 101 bridge. Speed limit. 
  • Millicoma Below Allegany. 
  • Necanicum Entire river, subject to slow-no wake. Speed limit. 
  • N. Fork Nehalem Below Aldervale. 
  • Rogue Between Gold Ray Dam (former site) and the Applegate River; below the mouth of Snout Creek (near Agness)
  • S. Fork Nehalem From the mouth of Peterson Creek (RM 10.3) to Nehalem River Falls (RM 15.7), closed from September 1 through March 30. 
  • Salmon Downstream of RM 3 
  • Siletz Downstream from the Morgan’s Park boat ramp.
  • Siuslaw Downstream from the Hwy 126 bridge at Mapleton. 
  • Snake Above Hells Canyon Dam. 
  • Trask Downstream from the Hwy 101 bridge. Speed limit. 
  • Umpqua Downstream from Scottsburg Park. 
  • Wilson Downstream from Sollie Smith boat ramp. Speed limit. 
  • Willamette (main stem) Downstream from the Beltline Road overpass at RM 178 in Eugene. (Note: The McKenzie, Molalla, Santiam, Tualatin, Yamhill, and all other Willamette tributaries are closed to PWC.)
  • Yaquina Downstream from the Toledo Airport boat ramp (RM 9). Boating Waterway Regulations 20 - Motors prohibited - Boat speed rest.
Owners/operators of personal watercraft must: (OAR 250-021-0030) 
  • Wear, and have passengers wear, U.S. Coast Guard-approved, inherently buoyant life jackets approved for the activity.
  • Attach a lanyard-type cutoff switch, if equipped by the manufacturer, to the person, clothing, or life jacket.
  • Effectively muffle the sound on the PWC.
  • Equip PWC with the required lights to operate between sunset and sunrise.
  • Operate PWC in a reasonable, prudent manner. Unsafe or reckless maneuvers endangering people/property include weaving through congested boat traffic, jumping wakes unreasonably close to another boat, or when its operator’s vision is obstructed, swerving to avoid a collision at the last moment. Allowances are made for participants in professional exhibitions and officially sanctioned events.
  • Operate PWC no closer than 200’ behind the water skier or other towed devices.
  • Not tow a water skier or any floating device with PWC unless another person on the PWC continuously observes the person being towed, and PWC is large enough to carry the operator, observer, and person being towed.
  • Observe slow-no wake:
    • within 200’ of a swimmer, surfer, diving flag, bank, or wading angler; dock, swim float, ramp, pier, marina, floating home, or boathouse;
    • within 100’ of any anchored or non-motorized vessel;
    • within 200’ of shoreline on all lakes, reservoirs, and bays, “safe” take-off excepted.
  • Not operate in excess of 10 MPH when approaching within 100’ of a motorized or sail vessel underway. 
  • Not chase, harass, or disturb wildlife with PWC. This is strictly prohibited. 
Operation of a PWC by persons under the age of 16, unless accompanied by a boater education card-holding person 18 or over on board, or rental to persons under 18 is prohibited. Inflatable life jackets are not approved for PWC operator use.

Personal watercraft liveries must: not rent to persons under 18; provide either Type I or III inherently buoyant U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets; provide safe operation information, giving each renter a written copy of state PWC rules and placing a safe operation decal on each craft; sign and have renter sign the copy of the rules, with renter carrying copy.
Other statewide and local rules exist for recreational boaters:
Other statewide and local rules exist for recreational boaters:
Local Rules: OAR 250, Division 20Division 21 Personal Watercraft, and Division 30 Scenic Waterways



Amidships -Center of the boat with reference to its length and/or sometimes its width.
Aft -Toward the stern of a boat.
Beam -The boat's maximum width.
Bilge -Lower internal part of a boat's hull.
Boat -All watercraft, including a seaplane on the water but not in flight, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. Exemptions include boathouses, floating homes, air mattresses, beach and water toys, or single inner tubes.
Bow -The forward part of a boat.
Draft -The depth of the boat below the water line is measured vertically to the lowest part of the hull.
Fore -To or at the front of the boat.
Freeboard -Height of the boat's side measured from the waterline to the deck or gunwale.
Gunwale -The upper edge of the side of a boat or ship.
Hull -The body of a boat.
Motorboat -Any boat propelled in whole or in part by machinery, including boats temporarily equipped with detachable motors. These include gasoline and electric motors.
Port -The side of a boat to the left when facing the bow.
Personal Watercraft -Commonly known by brand names such as Jet Ski or Wave Runner, a PWC is a motorboat using a water jet pump as its primary propulsion. designed for operation by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling.
Sailboat -Any boat which is under sail alone, including any sailboat equipped with a motor.
Starboard -The side of a boat to the right when facing the bow.
Stern -Back end of a boat. 
Transom -Flat planking across the stern of a boat.
Underway -Boat in motion. Technically, a boat is underway when not moored, at anchor or aground.

CURRENT – An ever-present flow of the water - from timid to turbulent –where volume, channel width, and gradient (see definition below) all affect the characteristics of a river. Current is usually slower along the inside bend of a river, and faster along the outside bend. Also current is faster on the surface due to less friction than along the bottom of the channel.

GRADIENT – The steepness of the riverbed, expressed in feet/mile (an average).

RAPIDS – water flowing over an obstruction, causing turbulence. Most often formed by boulders below the surface.

HOLES – water flowing over a ledge or rock creating a void, can trap objects held in the circulating flow/hydraulics created.

HYDRAULICS – Water circulating on top of itself – evident by the churning of water below a dam or spillway. Often associated with other hazards such as holes and breaking waves.

EDDIES – Water rushing around obstacles/obstructions, circulating downstream, towards shore in a reverse current. Current flows to fill the void created by the flow of water. Sometimes violent eddies form whirlpools.

EDDYLINE – the boundary between the circular eddy and the downward current flow.

POUROVER - Think of it as a vertical eddy, water flowing over a rock, ledge or manmade horizontal structure (dam, spillway, weir) creating a "hole" below the obstruction.

DROP – Water dropping straight down – a waterfall is a classic example.

CONSTRICTED WAVE – As flowing water is constricted – by a narrowing channel - it begins to move faster. The compressed water sometimes forms waves.

WAVETRAIN – a series of non-breaking waves.

BREAKING WAVES – the top of a swell that collapses down on the upstream side of the wave (often referred to as a "stopper").

*River Glossary from