How far must boats stay away from swimmers in Florida?

As a boat owner, safety should be your top priority every time you take your boat out on the water. That means safety for you, your passengers, other boats, and those enjoying the water in other ways. That includes swimmers, which are often the hardest to spot because they take up minimal space and can sometimes dip underwater and become temporarily invisible to boat operators. In Florida, there are some basic regulations and guidelines you can follow to help keep everyone safe.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, boaters are expected to make every effort possible to stay at least 300-feet from a divers-down symbol in open water and at least 100 feet away in a river, channel, or inlet.

Although a divers-down symbol should only be displayed while divers are underwater, these are reasonable guidelines to follow for swimmers as well.

Also read: Is It Legal To Drink On A Boat In Florida?

A divers-down warning device can come in several different forms, but the symbol itself is a red square or rectangle with a white diagonal stripe. You may see divers-down symbols on buoys, other vessels, flags.

The divers-down symbol isn’t the only one you should be on the lookout for, however. There is also an exclusion symbol, which features crossed diamonds to indicate areas off-limits to all boats and other vessels. These exclusion areas include swimming areas, dams, and spillways. While there is no mandatory distance to keep from these areas other than the rule not to enter them, it’s best to leave at least 100 feet of distance in case any swimmers have left the designated areas.

Of course, if you intend on swimming or diving, be sure that you and your passengers are in the correct areas as well and that you approach those areas at the appropriate speed. Check out some of our other Florida boating safety blogs for more information on how to stay safe and within the laws on Florida waters.