August 31, 2015 – The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Boating Division has announced the introduction of new state regulations regarding towing safety. “Emily’s Law”, named in honor of 16-year-old Emily Fedorko who lost her life in a tragic tubing accident in 2014, was signed into law by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy earlier this year.
The law, which becomes effective October 1, 2015, prohibits children under the age of 16 from operating a powerboat while towing water skiers or tubes. Additionally, any individual wishing to operate while towing water skiers or tubes must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Hold a valid U.S. Coast Guard-issued vessel operator license, Connecticut DEEP-issued Safe Boating Certificate or a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation, or a boating safety certificate from a state with reciprocity with Connecticut. These states are: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire.
- Hold a Connecticut DEEP-issued Safe Water Skiing Endorsement
Additionally, the law also prohibits the owner of a vessel to knowingly allow an individual under the age of 16 to operate their vessel while towing a skier or tubes.
What you need to know…
Q: I plan to take a safe boating course in Connecticut after October 1, 2015; how will I get my Safe Waterskiing Endorsement?
A: Those that take a DEEP boating course or an approved course from a private provider will receive a “Safe Waterskiing Endorsement” printed on their Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation when it is purchased.
Q: I plan to take a safe boating course from a reciprocal state or from the U.S. Coast Guard after October 1, 2015 and plan to tow water skiers or tubes while operating in Connecticut waters. How will I get my Safe Waterskiing Endorsement?
A: The Connecticut DEEP plans to make an online course available for those operators within the coming months.
Q: I received my Connecticut DEEP-issued Safe Boating Certificate or Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation, U.S. Coast Guard vessel operator license, or valid certificate from a reciprocal state prior to October 1, 2015; do I need a Safe Waterskiing Endorsement?
A: No – Individuals who have obtained any of the above listed licenses or certifications prior to October 1, 2015 are considered “grandfathered” in and will not need to obtain the Safe Waterskiing Endorsement. However, we highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the educational materials developed by the Connecticut DEEP regarding safe towing practices.
For US Powerboating Certified Powerboat Instructors:
An additional educational supplement has been provided by the Connecticut DEEP. After October 1, 2015, US Powerboating Powerboat Instructors will be required to integrate this information into all Safe Powerboat Handling Courses taught in the State of Connecticut. The current State Specific Exam has been modified to include an additional 10 questions related to the supplemental towing information.
Note: The State Specific Exam will now have a total of 20 questions. The exam is currently pending NASBLA approval and will be distributed to Powerboat Instructors as soon as it is received by the US Powerboating Training Office.
Information regarding the implementation of the new law and the educational requirements is being passed to US Powerboating from the Connecticut DEEP Boating Division. We will do our best to keep our instructors apprised of new developments in a timely manner.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Training Office should you have any questions:
Powerboat Training Manager
(401) 366-3112 (direct)
Full text of the law can be found here: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=SB699’
To support the Emily Catherine Fedorko Foundation, please visit their website.