Personal Watercraft

This is a summary of the most common rules, regulations, and recommendation for operation of Personal Watercraft (PWC) on Prior Lake. PWCs include watercraft in which the rider stands or sits on the craft (as opposed to sitting inside the craft) such as Jet Skis, Wave-Runners and Sea-Doos.

New For 2017: No inflatable water devices such as air mattresses, inner tubes, or similar water toys can be towed through ANY no wake channels.

For the full version from the City of Prior Lake, please visit:    

For the complete Minnesota Boating Regulation Guide:

Registration of PWC: All personal watercraft must be registered with the State of MN. This registration must be kept on board on all motorized watercraft at all times and must display the PWC Operations Rules decal.

PWC Hours of Operation: PWCs cannot be operated on Prior Lake (or any MN body of water) before 9:30 am and must be off the water ONE HOUR BEFORE sunset. The sunset time table used for enforcement of this restriction is published in the DNR Boat Operators Manual. You can also easily Google the sunset time on your smart phone.

Age Requirements for PWC Operation:

  • Operators under 13 years oldmay NOT operate a PWC even with an adult on board.
  • Operators 13 years old: must have a Watercraft Operator’s Permit and be under visual supervision (from shore or on board) by someone at least 21 years old or have someone at least 21 years old on board.
  • Operators 14 to 17 years old: must have a Watercraft Operator’s Permit or someone at least 21 years old on board.

To obtain a Watercraft Operators Permit:

Speed Limits for PWC:

  • 40 mph speed limit applies to weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • NO speed limit for any weekdays all year and weekends after Labor Day and before Memorial Day.
  • PWC’s are not allowed on the lake at night so night time speed limits are not applicable.

Life Jackets: Appropriate size US Coast Guard Approved Life jackets are required for driver and all passengers on a PWC at all times. Lanyard key must be attached to the driver’s life jacket while in operation.

Fire Extinguishers: All PWC’s must have a fire extinguisher on board at all time.


Rules and Recommendations for Operation of a PWC:

Be respectful. Don’t operate a PWC in the same are for long periods of time. Stay away from shorelines and other watercrafts as much as possible. PWC’s may not weave through congested watercraft traffic, or jump the wake of another watercraft within 150 feet of the other watercraft (including other PWC’s).

Observe and obey all no wakes zone and other navigation buoys.

PWC Capacity: The PWC must have sufficient legal maximum capacity to carry everyone in the party (including those on the towable device) on the PWC.

When towing a skier, wakeboarder, surfer, tuber, etc., an observer must also be on board unless the PWC is equipped with factory equipped wide angled rear view mirrors. Regardless of mirrors, it is still recommended (but not required) that an observer be on board and carry a red flag for display when the person being towed falls or is waiting in the water.

Non-motorized Craft: Non-motorized craft (sailboats, canoes, etc.) have the right-of-way over motorized craft in all situations, except when the non-motorized craft is overtaking or passing

Move Over Law: When approaching and passing a law enforcement watercraft with its emergency lights activated, the operator of a watercraft must safely move the watercraft away from the law enforcement watercraft and maintain a slow no-wake speed while within 150 feet of the law enforcement watercraft.

Passing: When overtaking another watercraft going in the same direction, the craft being overtaken must maintain course and speed. The passing watercraft must keep a sufficient distance to avoid collision or endangering the other craft from its wake.

Meeting: When two watercraft approach each other “head-on,” each must alter course to the right to avoid collision.  If the two watercraft are far enough to the left of each other, no change in direction is needed for safe passage. Both watercraft will maintain their course and speed to pass clear of each other.  Keep to the right in narrow channels.

Crossing: If two watercraft approach each other at a right angle, the watercraft to the right shall have the right-of-way.



  • Operate a watercraft in a reckless or careless manner.
  • Operate a watercraft in such a way that it’s wake endangers, harasses, or interferes with a person or property.
  • Operate a watercraft in such a way that it obstructs or interferes with navigation of other watercraft.
  • Operate a watercraft with within 150 feet of a scuba divers warning flag or an area legally marked off as a swimming area.
  • Ride on or sit on the gun whales, bow, transom, or decking over the bow, sides or stern of any motorboat while underway, unless it is equipped with an adequate railing.
  • Chase or harass wildlife.
  • Intentionally obstruct any seaplane attempting to land or take off.
  • Attach a watercraft to any buoy except a mooring buoy.
  • Tamper with, remove, or destroy a navigational aid or buoy.
  • Litter on any water body or at any public access.
  • Operate a motorized watercraft (including PWC) while impaired by a Blood Alcohol level over 0.08 or by other controlled substances.
    • The same fines and penalties apply for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) as Driving While Intoxicated(DWI) in a motor vehicle on the road.
    • Open bottles ARE allowed on watercraft and the driver CAN drink alcohol but not to the level of legal intoxication (0.08 % BAC).

Please Enjoy Prior Lake Respectfully and Safely!