Maryland DNR Deep Creek Lake Boating Facts
Visit the DNR Boating Website and the DNR Deep Creek Lake Website for Complete Information
Each vessel must have Required Boating Equipment on board and DNR suggests that you review their Boating Tips for a safe, legal, and enjoyable time on the water.
An individual may not have or use on the waters of the lake a vessel 26 feet or more in length overall, except for a:
- Pontoon boat, which may not exceed 30 feet in length overall;
- Vessel operating under a valid nonconforming use permit; or
- Boat with a molded platform, which may not exceed 27 feet in length.
An individual may not operate a vessel with an engine or engines:
- Exceeding the manufacturer's recommended maximum horsepower capacity; or
- With a total displacement of greater than 550 cubic inches.
Except for an authorized patrol vessel, an individual may not use a siren on a vessel.
An individual may not have or use a houseboat on the waters of the lake.
An individual may not deposit or cause to be deposited garbage, sewage, waste of any kind, foodstuff, paper, or other litter in the waters of Deep Creek Lake.
An individual may not operate a vessel with an installed marine sanitation device capable of discharging treated or untreated sewage into the waters of the lake.
The Department shall position buoys on the lake to mark hazards and public swimming areas. An individual may not operate a vessel inshore from a buoy which designates a public swimming area.
Only Penelec may position buoys associated with the operation of the dam, intake, and spillway.
An individual may not:
- Operate on the lake a vessel which is towing another individual who is attached to a parachute or other device which causes that individual to become airborne;
- Be towed by a vessel while attached to a parachute or other device which causes that individual to become airborne.
Personal Watercraft and Air-Cushioned Vessels. Except for vessels owned and operated by the State or local government, an individual may not operate a personal watercraft or air-cushioned vessel on the lake from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on:
- The Saturday, Sunday, and holiday of Memorial Day weekend; and
- The Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from July 1 through Labor Day.
Maryland Boating Education Law
Anyone operating a motorized vessel in the state of Maryland born on or after July 1, 1972, must possess a NASBLA approved certificate of boating safety education. To find a boating course in your area, call 410-643-8502 or check online at dnr.maryland.gov/boating.
Water Skiing on Deep Creek Lake
Maryland waters offer wonderful opportunities for recreational boaters. With the ever-increasing number of boaters, it is everyone’s responsibility to work together to ensure that our waters are safe and clean.
Water-skiing, along with being towed on a tube, kneeboard, or any other device, is very popular with Maryland boaters. These activities are both fun and challenging; however, towing people on skis or any other device requires additional knowledge and skills. Please invest the time to educate yourself in the practices necessary to be safe and responsible by reviewing the following laws and safety tips. They contain everything you’ll need to know when water-skiing in Maryland and will also help to make your boating experience a memorable one.
Safe and fun skiing requires a driver and skier to make good judgments. The effects of sun, wind, waves, and vibration can impair judgment. Don’t stay on the water too long. Drinking alcoholic beverages, taking prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, or using illegal drugs can also contribute to impaired judgment. Never operate a vessel or ski when your judgment is impaired, and remember, operating a boat while intoxicated is illegal and dangerous.
The vessel operator is responsible for keeping the skier away from dangerous areas, as well as giving him or her an enjoyable ride. Keep the boat a safe distance from the shore, docks, and other objects in the water. Be on the lookout for other boats about to enter the ski area. If this happens, shut down the boat and wait for the area to clear. The driver must be alert for skiers in the water or stopped boats in his or her path. Before turning the boat, look to each side and behind to make sure there are no overtaking boats and that the turn will not endanger the skier. Remember, the person at the end of the towrope is an extension of the boat, and the operator must continually be aware of their presence and safety.
In an area that is too populated with boats and/or persons to allow unlimited skiing, speed limits of 6 knots are in effect and skiing is not allowed. These areas are posted with white signs or buoys with the restrictions stated within an orange circle. These signs and buoys conform to the nationwide system of state markers, and special time restrictions are as posted. It is the operator’s responsibility to avoid these areas while water skiing or towing a similar device.
Owners of shoreline property cite that the increase of large powerboats and speed/ski boat traffic traveling at high rates of speed creates damaging wakes. Increased boat traffic leads to erosion, damage to docked boats, and damage to property.
WATER SKIING IS SAFEST WHEN SKIERS AND BOAT OPERATORS KNOW AND USE COMMON-SENSE RULES. BEFORE TOWING A SKIER, THE OPERATOR SHOULD:
- Review hand signals with the skier to ensure proper communications.
- Make sure the skier is wearing a USCG approved life jacket.
- Make sure the tow lines are of the same length if towing multiple skiers.
- Be familiar with the area and aware of any hazards such as shallow water, rocks, or bridge pilings in the water.
- Choose a safe location and know that water-skiing should never be attempted in swimming areas, low-speed mooring lanes, or marina channels.
- Operate in an area at least 200 feet wide, giving a safety area of 100 feet on either side of the boat. A corridor length of 2,000 to 3,000 feet is desirable.
- Remember to keep the boat a safe distance from the shore, docks and other objects in the water. You are responsible for your wake!
- Never ski at night! It is both hazardous and illegal.
Hand Signals for Skiers
Knowing proper hand signals will help the skier(s) communicate with their boat operator and/or observer.
- Speed up the boat: Thumb up.
- Slow down the boat: Thumb down.
- Cut Motor/Stop: Slashing motion over neck. (Also used by driver or observer)
- Turn the boat: Circle motion with arms over head then point in desired direction. (Also used by driver)
- Return to dock: Pat on head
- Speed and boat path OK or signals understood: OK signal with hand.
- Skier OK after falling: Hands clasped over head.
All information and photo provided by Maryland DNR
Natural Resources Police | Safety Education Section | 305 Marine Academy Drive, Suite 1 | Stevensville, MD 21666
410-643-8502 | Toll Free 877-620-8367 | DNR.MARYLAND.GOV