Have fun, be safe - every time you go out!

1. Before You Boat, Make Sure You Float!

Manchaug Pond Foundation Safe Boating

The best life jacket is the one you will wear!

Have it on when the boat is underway or readily accessible in case of an emergency. When do life jackets save lives?

  • When capsized in rough water.
  • When thrown off balance while fishing.
  • When unable to swim because of heavy or waterlogged clothing.
  • When thrown from the boat as a result of a collision.
  • When injured by rocks or submerged objects.
  • When tossed into freezing water.

A wearable life jacket can save your life, but only if you wear it. Throwable devices must be immediately available for use.

Boat Responsibly!

2. Attend a Vessel Safety Check!

Be sure to attend the Vessel Safety Check each June on Manchaug Pond sponsored by the Manchaug Pond Foundation in cooperation with a certified examiner from the Green Bay Sail & Power Squadron. Besides your boat decal and checklist, pick up a free hard copy of the Massachusetts Boating Handbook and other educational information and safety items. Free and open to all.

“That’s the best sticker you can have on your boat as they just leave you alone.” 

Participant of 2015 VSC, Manchaug Pond

3. Take a Boating Course!

BOAT MASSACHUSETTS is a state and nationally approved boating safety course, concentrating on the equipment and operating guidelines needed to enjoy boating in a safe and responsible way.

All graduates in the 12 through 15 year-old age group will be issued a safety certificate allowing them to operate a motorboat without adult supervision, as required by state law. The same is true for 16 and 17 year old youth who wish to operate a personal watercraft (jet ski, wave runner, etc.)

The course runs 10-12 hours in length. The normal format is 5-6 two hours classes, though this may vary. All classes are free of charge. Classes are for adults and youth 12 years of age and older. Family participation is encouraged and has proven to be very rewarding.

For the free online study course and test preparation, for course dates check online, or call the Massachusetts Environmental Police at 508-564-4961.

When boating Manchaug Pond…


  • Watch for hazards: the rocky shore, the shallow channel, the submerged channel wall, and submerged Blueberry Island.
  • STAY to the CENTER between the red CHANNEL signs!
  • No Wake Zone and Nothing in Tow through the channel:  DO NOT pull skiers or recreational tubes!
  • Open Container Law so NO alcoholic beverages or marijuana  allowed at the ramp, in the boat, or on the water. (Open container law prohibits public drinking and marijuana use with fine up to $300.)
  • When the lake is busy, maintain a COUNTER CLOCK-WISE direction of travel (when facing north) to maximize safety.
  • Manchaug Pond is regularly patrolled during the boating season by the Sutton Boat Patrol and the Massachusetts Environmental Police. Additionally, the state public access ramp is patrolled by the town, state and environmental police with safety inspections performed before boaters get on the water. If you are approached by the police/police boat, please stop and allow the officers to speak with you – they are known to “conduct inspections, investigations, render aid to disabled boats and inform boaters of basic boating practices.” Their goal is to educate and ensure the safety of all residents and visitors enjoying the waterway.
For emergencies, to report an accident, or for more information:

Call: 911 or
Massachusetts Environmental Police: 1-800-632-8075 (24/7 Radio Communications Center)
Sutton Police Department: 1-508-865-4449 (On-lake Boat Patrol)
Douglas Police Department: 1-508-476-3333
Massachusetts Environmental Police: 1-508-564-4691 (Boat & R.V. Safety Bureau)

To help Police keep our lake safe, when reporting an incident:

  • think details –  who, what, when, where …
  • take a photo or video,
  • get the vessel ID numbers.

 Massachusetts Boating Law Summary

 AGE RESTRICTIONS: No person under 12 years of age may operate a motorboat, unless accompanied on-board and directly supervised by a competent person 18 years of age or older.
Personal watercraft (PWC) users must still be at least 16 years of age in order to operate, with no exceptions.
Handbook Cover Image

Click to look inside!

Safety Education Certification: Youth who are between 12 and 15 years of age must complete an approved basic boating course in order to operate a motorboat without adult supervision. Upon successful completion of such a course, students are issued a state “boating safety certificate” which must be in the possession of the certified operator when underway. Personal watercraft users who are 16 or 17 years of age must also complete such a boating course. Youth less than 16 years of age are not allowed to operate personal watercraft.

Accident Reporting: The operator of any motorboat involved in an accident which results in personal injury, death, or property damage (over $500) shall immediately notify the MA Environmental Police and file the appropriate accident report within the required time frame. (2 days-fatality; 5 days – all other accidents)

SAFETY EQUIPMENT: Most of the state equipment carriage requirements are similar to federal laws. This primary list includes life preservers, fire extinguishers, signaling devices, visual distress signals, and navigation lights.

  • Life preservers are required to be worn by:
    •  youth less than 12 years of age
    • personal watercraft users
    • waterskiers, always; canoeists/kayakers from September 15 – May 15.
    • A boat owner or a boat’s operator is responsible to ensure that passengers on-board wear life preservers as required.
  • All motorboats (with the exception of personal watercraft) be equipped with an anchor, manual bailer, and line.
  • A paddle or an oar is required on boats less than 16 feet in length.
  • Motorboats towing skiers must also be equipped with a boarding ladder.
  • Registration and numbering of all boats powered by machinery is required. In BLOCK lettering only.

Prohibited Operation–The following types of operation are extremely unsafe and are prohibited:

  • Operating any vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A blood alcohol concentration of .08 BAC is the current standard of intoxication in Massachusetts. Penalties have increased substantially and may include the loss of a motor vehicle driver’s license.
  • Operating a motorboat within 150 feet of a swimming area, whether public or private.
  • Operating at an excessive speed considering weather conditions, boat traffic, and other hazards.
    For inland waters, operating at a speed greater than 45 mph is considered negligent operation.
  • Operating a motorboat without properly working lights.
  • Operating a motorboat during the nighttime while towing waterskiers, tubers, etc.
  • Operating at greater than headway speed (6 mph or less) within 150 feet of a swimmer, waterskier, mooring area, marina, boat launch, or when the operator’s vision is obscured in any way.
  • Operating in an overloaded condition (carrying total weight that exceeds capacity plate recommendations or is excessive considering water conditions)
  • Operating with passengers on the bow, gunwales, or any other place where there may be a chance of falling overboard.

Personal Watercraft Operation Personal watercraft (PWC) are considered motorboats by law and must comply with all boating laws and navigation rules, including the speed and operation provisions above. Additionally, PWC users must adhere to state regulations specific to personal watercraft operation:

  • Wear an approved life jacket (PFD) at all times (operator and passengers).
  • Attach the safety lanyard to the operator and the cutoff/kill switch.
  • Always operate at slow, no-wake speed (6 mph or less) within 150 feet of the following:

Manchaug Pond Foundation

Life jackets required when canoeing and kayaking from September 15th – May 15th.


ShorelineWaterskierBoat launchRaft or floatMoored or docked boat

You must not operate:

  • If less than 16 years old
  • Under the influence of alcohol
  • Between sunset and sunrise
  • At high speed in congested areas
  • While towing persons on skis, tubes, etc.

This is only a summary of boating laws. All boaters must know and observe all local, state, and federal laws. For further information on boating laws, boating education, or to obtain accident report forms contact the Massachusetts Environmental Police at (508) 564-4961.

Manchaug Pond Foundation Safe BoatingManchaug Pond Foundation Safe Boating