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Marine Division

2021 UPDATE: This year, the State of Michigan and Department of Natural Resources has allowed Recreation Safety Instructors to resume in-person safety classes. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office will once again be hosting classes throughout this spring and summer boating season at various locations throughout Allegan County.
Although in-person classes will resume, there will be some additional requirements for ALL students who wish to attend:
In addition, the Resources list on this page contains helpful material such as updated Safety Facts and the latest Michigan Boating Laws Handbook.
The Marine Division is supported by local county funding and through grants obtained from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Marine Deputies patrol all the navigable lakes in Allegan County along with the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan. Deputies are responsible for responding to boating and water related emergencies, enforcing marine laws, local watercraft controls and the investigation of boating accidents.  Deputies work hand in hand with the United States Coast Guard. They are dedicated to boater safety education and ensuring citizens have a safe boating experience in Allegan County. Although the Marine Division responds to boating incidents throughout the entire year, patrols are mostly visible during the summer boating seasons.

Local Watercraft Controls

Special watercraft controls are in effect on various lakes and rivers within Allegan County.  These bodies of water include Big Lake, Dumont Lake, East Lake, Ely Lake, Goshorn Lake, Hutchin’s Lake, Kalamazoo Lake, Lake 16, Round Lake, Selkirk Lake, Wetmore Lake, Saugatuck Harbor and various parts of the Kalamazoo River.

Slow No Wake Zones

Various areas of the Kalamazoo River located within the Cities of Saugatuck and Douglas as well as Saugatuck Township has special watercraft controls consisting of “No-Wake” zones. Operators of watercraft are required to travel at the slowest possible speed a boat can operate at safely, while maintaining control of steering.

Boating Safety Classes

Boater safety classes are taught annually by marine deputies allowing students to earn their Boating Safety Certificate.

Upon the successful completion of this class, attendees will receive their Boater's Safety Certificate. Classes are open to anyone 12 years of age or older and are provided in 1 or 2 day sessions.
We ask that participants bring a pencil and a sack lunch. All course materials are provided and there is no charge to attend any of these courses. Attendees need only to attend and complete one of these classes to receive their certificate.
Marine Rescue




Kalamazoo River No-Wake Zones Maps.pdf
Local Watercraft Ordinances.pdf
Paddling Safety - Kayaks and Canoes.pdf
2021 Boater Safety Class Requirements Announcement.pdf
2021 Recreational Boating Safety Facts.pdf
Michigan Boating Laws Handbook.pdf
Study Guide-Michigan Boat Ed Course (

 Frequently Asked Questions


​To operate a motorboat in the State of Michigan a Boater’s Safety Certificate is required for anyone born on or after July 1, 1996.  Boater’s Safety Certificates are required for persons 12-15 years of age who wish to operate a motorboat in Michigan and they must be under the direct supervision of a person who is 16 years of age or older.

A Boater’s Safety Certificate is also required for persons between 14 & 15 years of age who wish to operate personal watercraft (PWC). He or she must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or designated person at least 21 years of age.  Those at least 16 years of age and born after December 31, 1978 may operate a personal watercraft (PWC) only if they have obtained a valid Boater Safety Certificate. 

Anyone born on or before December 31, 1978 may operate a personal watercraft without restriction.


​People who need a boating safety certificate.

A boating safety certificate is required for persons 12-15 years of age to operate a motorboat.

A boating safety certificate is required to operate a personal watercraft (PWC) if the operator was born after December 31, 1978. The minimum age for PWC operators who obtain a boating safety certificate after Jan. 1, 1999 is 14 years of age. A Certificate is also required of any adult who will be supervising a child age 12 or 13 in the operation of a personal watercraft regardless of the age of the adult.

People of all ages who are interested in safe boating.

  • ​Safe operation of personal watercraft
  • Age requirements for operators of different types of watercraft
  • Equipment and registration requirements for different types of watercraft
  • Personal floatation devices: types and uses
  • The rules of the road for boaters

The class takes about 6 hours, depending on class size. Some classes are taught over a two day period (3 hours each day).

There is no cost, but pre-registration is required.  To register, refer to the instructions for the class you are interested in.

​Lost boater safety certificates can be obtained from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources as long as you participated in a class held in the state of Michigan.  Visit this website:


Marine Team