Nobody died, new rules for watercraft rentals

A new law requires anyone in Tennessee who rents any motorized watercraft must provide the operator with an orientation class for the vessel they're renting. Anyone who has passed a certified boating safety class, however, is exempt from the orientation. (Photo: Richard Simms)

Nobody was killed on Tennessee waterways over the official Memorial Day Holiday, according to officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. They say it marks the fifth consecutive year without a boating fatality over the holiday weekend.

During the period from May 24-27, there were five injuries in boating-related accidents and and six property damage accidents. TWRA Region IV in East Tennessee, had two of the injury and five property damage incidents.

TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement officers made 21 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests, the most since the same number was reported in 2016 over the holiday weekend. The number is an increase from 10 in 2018, a holiday weekend which rain over much of the state slowed activity on the water. TWRA Region II, which encompasses several lakes in Middle Tennessee, reported the most arrests with eight.

Meanwhile an amendment passed in the Tennessee General Assembly this year requires people who rent motorized watercraft be provided with a specific orientation lesson for the specific type of vessel being rented.

The renter of the watercraft must sign off in acknowledgement after completion of the orientation. The marina or any other rental entity will be required to keep the acknowledgement on file for at least a 30-day period.

Tennessee residents who have successfully completed a monitored National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) exam and hold the TWRA-issued wallet certification card are exempt from the orientation. Any out of state visitor, who holds a NASBLA-approved boating safety education certification, is also exempt as is any person who holds a United States Coast Guard operator license.

Tennessee residents born after Jan. 1, 1989 are required to pass a boater education exam administered by an approved representative of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in order to operate any motorized vessel over 8.5 horsepower. Out of state residents born after Jan. 1, 1989 must show proof of successful completion of NASBLA approved boating safety course. Non-resident certification may be from their home state or any state issued course.

Tennessee residents born after the Jan.1, 1989 can purchase a Type 600 Exam Permit online or from any hunting and fishing license vendor for a cost of $10 and go to a testing location to take the exam or take a class. Locations for testing and for classes can be found on the TWRA website.

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