Boating Laws in Florida: No Wake Zones

No wake zones are posted to help ensure boating safety, protect sea life and avoid boat damage. If you see a no wake sign, it’s time to wake up and power down.

No wake means that you decrease your speed to idle speed – a speed no greater than is necessary to maintain steerage and headway, where absolutely “no wake” is produced. There are also postings for slow speed, minimum wake. This is when you should be off plane and completely settled in the water, so that a wake, if any, created by your vessel is minimal at most. Speed limit signs speak for themselves. 

Zones of this sort are typically posted to prevent waves from continually beating against banks and subsequently eroding them. They are also intended to prevent docked boats from rocking too much and being damaged from banging against their docks. Slower speeds are often required to ensure safe navigation through certain waterways.

Then there are totally restricted areas. These are typically where manatees congregate to feed and spawn and in areas designated for swimming…for people. In Florida, approximately 25 to 30 percent of manatee deaths are attributed to watercraft. These gentle giants, which are at risk of becoming extinct, are protected by rules established by the Fish and Wildlife Commission. The survival of our spectacular manatees is paramount and, of course, human swimmers tend to prefer not to be run over by boats as well. 

So, please follow the rules on all posted signs. They were designed to keep everyone and everything safer, and it is the law.

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