Boating Safety Zones; Restrictions; Exceptions (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-13)

Legal Commentary. You must follow the rules applying to boating safety zones. You cannot operate a vessel at any time in swimming ares or near a dam. You also cannot operate any boat with a toilet, galley, or sleeping area on Bull Sluice Lake, Lake Burton, Goat Rock Lake, Lake Harding, Lake Jackson, North Highlands Lake, Lake Oconee, Lake Oliver, Lake Rabun, Seed Lake, Tallulah Falls Lake, Tugalo Lake, and Yonah Lake. You also cannot operate a boat with a mechanical engine for a distance of 1000 feet seaward from the high water mark from the north end to the south end of the following islands: Jekyll Island, Typee Island Beach, St. Simons Island, and Sea Island. Furthermore, you cannot operate a boat with more than 10 horsepower on the Ogeechee River from the bridge at Georgia Highway 119 upstream.

See the full text of the statute below:

Boating Safety Zones; Restrictions; Exceptions (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-13)     

(a)(1) The following are established as boating safety zones from May 1 through the following September 30:

(A) The ocean waters adjacent to Jekyll Island, which shall include all those waters for a distance of 1,000 feet from the high-water mark on Jekyll Beach from the northernmost point to the southernmost point of Jekyll Island;

(B) The ocean waters adjacent to Tybee Island Beach, which shall include all those waters for a distance of 1,000 feet from the high-water mark on Tybee Island Beach from the northernmost point to the southernmost point of Tybee Island Beach;

(C) The ocean waters adjacent to Saint Simons Island, which shall include all those waters for a distance of 1,000 feet from the high-water mark on Saint Simons Island from the northernmost point to the southernmost point of Saint Simons Island; and

(D) The ocean waters adjacent to Sea Island, which shall include all those waters for a distance of 1,000 feet from the high-water mark on Sea Island from the northernmost point to the southernmost point of Sea Island.

(2) The following are established as boating safety zones at all times of the year:

(A) The area within the marked boundary of any designated swimming area; and

(B) The area within the marked boundary upstream or downstream of any dam designated by the commissioner.

(3) The following are established as boating safety zones for the purpose of ensuring maritime and homeland security:

(A) All those waters within the Elba Island liquefied natural gas mooring slip; provided, however, that liquefied natural gas tank ships and authorized vessels actively engaged in the escort, maneuvering, or support of such ships shall be permitted in such zone;

(B) The area within 100 yards of any United States navy vessel; and

(C) The area within 100 yards of any vessel escorted to, from, or within any port of this state by a law enforcement vessel displaying applicable law enforcement agency markings, whether such escorted vessel is in motion or anchored or moored.

(b) Except for lifesaving, emergency, law enforcement, or dam operation and maintenance craft, it shall be unlawful to launch, float, or operate:

(1) Any power boat within the boundaries of those boating safety zones defined in subsection (a) of this Code section; or

(2) Any vessel within the boundaries of those boating safety zones defined in subparagraphs (a)(2)(A) and (a)(2)(B) of this Code section, provided such zones are marked in accordance with the uniform waterway marking system.

(c) With the exception of law enforcement crafts, no motor in excess of 9.9 horsepower shall be used on any vessel being operated on the Ogeechee River from the point where it crosses State Highway No. 119 to its point of origin.

(d) The operation of any vessel, specifically including a houseboat, with a marine toilet, galley, or sleeping quarters shall be prohibited on Lake Burton, Bull Sluice Lake, Goat Rock Lake, Lake Harding, Lake Jackson, North Highlands Lake, Lake Oliver, Lake Rabun, Seed Lake, Tallulah Falls Lake, Tugalo Lake, Lake Oconee, and Yonah Lake.

(e)(1) No person shall operate or use any vessel within an area designated and appropriately marked as a "hazardous area" unless each person aboard such vessel is wearing a United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, which device is designated as a Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V device. Such device must be properly fastened, in good and serviceable condition, and the proper size for the person wearing the device.

(2) The provisions of this subsection shall not affect regulations promulgated by any agency of the federal government related to activities that may or may not be conducted within designated hazardous areas which are located within the jurisdiction of such agency.

(f) With the exception of law enforcement or scientific research or dam operation and maintenance craft, no motor in excess of 25 horsepower shall be used on any vessel being operated on Tugalo Lake.

(g) The operation of any of the following vessels on Lake Oconee shall be prohibited:

(1) Any motorized vessel greater than 30 feet six inches in length; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not apply to:

(A) Law enforcement, scientific research, or dam operation and maintenance craft; or

(B) A vessel not greater than 40 feet in length used for conducting group tours on behalf of the owner or operator of a REAP certified by the Department of Community Affairs under Code Section 50-8-192 if the same vessel was lawfully operated on the lake by such REAP owner or operator under former provisions of this paragraph as such existed immediately prior to May 29, 2007; in addition, such vessel may be replaced by the same REAP owner or operator but only by one vessel at a time and only if each such predecessor vessel has been retired from lawfully operating on the lake and the replacement vessel does not exceed 40 feet in length; or

(2) Any vessel equipped with any type of bypass mechanism that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of the muffler or baffler system required by Code Section 52-7-10.

(h) The operation of any of the following vessels on Lake Burton, Seed Lake, Lake Rabun, Lake Tugalo, Tallulah Falls Lake, Lake Sinclair, and Lake Yonah shall be prohibited:

(1) Any motorized vessel greater than 30 feet six inches in length; except for:
(A) Law enforcement, scientific research, or dam operation and maintenance craft; or

(B) Any vessel that was lawfully operated on Lake Sinclair immediately prior to May 20, 2010, and was as of such date included on the tax roll of any county within which any part of such lake lies; or

(2) Any vessel equipped with any type of bypass mechanism that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of the muffler or baffler system required by Code Section 52-7-10.

(i) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to vessels engaged in any activity authorized under Code Section 52-7-19.

HISTORY: Ga. L. 1977, p. 1182, § 8; Ga. L. 1978, p. 1743, § 3; Ga. L. 1980, p. 738, §§ 6-8; Ga. L. 1982, p. 873, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1984, p. 22, § 52; Ga. L. 1984, p. 422, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 567, § 8; Ga. L. 1990, p. 317, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 998, § 3; Ga. L. 1993, p. 351, § 2; Ga. L. 1993, p. 790, § 1; Ga. L. 1996, p. 101, § 1; Ga. L. 1998, p. 1133, §§ 17, 18; Ga. L. 1999, p. 657, § 1; Ga. L. 2003, p. 795, § 1; Ga. L. 2006, p. 96, § 6/HB 1490; Ga. L. 2007, p. 622, § 1/HB 510; Ga. L. 2008, p. 943, § 1/HB 964; Ga. L. 2010, p. 118, § 2/SB 99.