Florida Boating Requirements

Whether you’re a seasoned captain or a novice navigating the Florida waters, you’ll need to navigate through the requirements and laws that ensure safety and compliance when boating in Florida. Let’s dive into the essentials and requirements to operate a boat in freshwater streams or just off the coast. So, grab your captain’s hat and let’s head into the insight of Florida’s boating laws!

An individual stands navigating the wheel of a boat.
Set sail behind the wheel! Your boating adventure awaits!

Requirements to Operate a Boat in Florida

Before you can embark on your boating journey in Florida, you need to meet certain requirements. First and foremost, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, is required to complete a boating safety education course, approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This applies to operators of vessels with 10 horsepower or more. The course covers topics ranging from navigation rules to emergency procedures, ensuring every captain is knowledgeable in the essentials of safe boating.

Safety Equipment for Personal Watercraft

Safety first – a mantra that resonates when it comes to personal watercraft (PWC) in Florida. For PWC operators, the law mandates the use of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) and a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch. These precautions enhance safety and minimize the risks associated with PWC operation. When renting a boat from Castaways on the River, we ensure your safety gear is in place!

Multiple pontoon boats lined up waiting to be taken out on the river on a sunny boating day.
The pontoons are lined up ready to be taken out for the day!

What are the age requirements to drive a boat in Florida?

The allure of captaining a boat often begins at a young age. In Florida, aspiring young individuals can take the helm as early as 14 years old, but certain conditions apply. To operate a boat powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more, a 14 or 15 year-old must complete a boating safety education course approved by the FWC. Additionally, they must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years old and possesses the required boating education. Note that individuals must be 18 years of age or older to rent a boat at Castaways on the River. 

Boating Options at Castaways on the River

When embarking on a boating adventure with Castaways on the River, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the boat rental policies. We offer both full and half-day rentals. Keep in mind boat rentals are confined to an 11-mile boundary North and South of Castaways on the River, as indicated on the authorized areas map. If your furry friend is joining the voyage, four boats are designated as dog-friendly, allowing one dog per boat! For a full list of our boat rental information please visit our boat rental page or contact us by calling 352.759.3422!

A dog is shown on the edge of a boat with their tongue sticking out.
Our furry friends love navigating a day out on the river!

From mandatory safety education courses to legal amendments, understanding state requirements ensures your boating experiences are enjoyable but also responsible. Ready to take on the river? Be sure to view our boat rental options at Castaways on the River. Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to share your day boating on the St. Johns River!

Your Ultimate Florida Boating Regulations Checklist

“The best boat to enjoy in Florida is someone else’s boat.”

The cost of ownership and upkeep for a boat is pricey, which is why Floridians and visitors alike enjoy the peace of mind that comes with renting a boat. The experience allows you to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the St. Johns River without the expense of boat ownership. Follow our Florida boating regulations checklist to help you get out on the water faster.

Florida boating regulations
Follow our Florida boating regulations checklist to help you get out on the water faster.

Check for a Valid Marina Rental Boat License

In Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) requires charter captains that rent boats to hold a valid boat license. This license allows rental boat operators to carry between four and 11 boaters on board, depending on which boat license they hold. Make sure you check with the charter captain before you rent a boat to inquire there is a valid boat license. Make sure the rental boats also have proper boat rental insurance.

Florida Boat Rental Age Cutoff

Each state is different when it comes to the requirement age and license requirements for boaters. Those wishing to rent a boat in Florida along the St. Johns River must be born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.

Complete an Approved Boating Safety Course

Those seeking to rent a boat and head out on the water must complete an approved boating safety course. The completion of the course allows you to obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the FWC. Find out answers to your boating card questions to help you pass the course.

If you are visiting from out of town and have boat certification from another state, you can receive a temporary Florida boating certificate from this list of Florida vendors.

Florida boating regulations
Floridians and visitors alike enjoy the peace of mind that comes with renting a boat.

Check the Boat for Damage

Before you take possession of the boat, make sure you assess the boat’s condition with the boat rental operator and document pre-existing issues with the boat so you are not made liable for boat repairs. Look for:

  • Scratches and dents
  • Motor or propeller damage
  • Seat and interior stains and tears
  • Windshield cracks

Review Proper Safety Equipment

All rental boats should come equipped with life jackets for every passenger on board. Discuss where the life jackets and other safety equipment for the boat are located before you leave the marina.

St. Johns River
Get on the St. Johns River to do some exploring and fishing in North Central Florida.

Rent a Boat

You have everything you need to take possession of a rental boat and get on the St. Johns River to do some exploring and fishing in North Central Florida. Rent a boat today at Castaways on the River, where a marina full of rentals boats is waiting for you. Castaways on the River also offers cottages and motel rooms along the river. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and area travel plans today!