Boating Safety Activities

The Vermilion Lake Association recognizes the importance of safety out on the water. We are providing a checklist of boating safety requirements as required by Minnesota law, and have also listed some boating safety tips specific to Lake Vermilion. It should be noted that the information contained herein is a summary of the requirements in the boating laws. For more complete information, see the links below, and in particular the DNR’s boating safety section, which is the first link listed.

  • Life Jackets- All boats and watercraft, whether motorized boats, paddleboats, canoes, kayaks, sailboats, stand up paddleboards, wild rice boats or rowboats, must have at least one wearable life jacket for each person on board, appropriately sized to fit that person.
  • Children under 10 years old must wear a properly fitted life jacket while a boat is underway. Underway means not tied to a dock or fastened to a permanent mooring. The DNR does not recommend taking infants under 6 months boating.
  • One Type IV throwable is required on boats 16 feet or longer (it can be either a seat cushion or ring buoy style pictured on the left) and must be immediately available. This means not locked in a storage compartment.
  • Motor boats over 16 feet must have a horn or whistle. See the DNR website for specific requirements.
  • Motor boats must have navigation lights on from sunset to sunrise. See the DNR website for specific requirements.
  • See DNR website for specific instructions in regard to passing, meeting and crossing.
  • Motorboats carrying fuel or other flammables must have a fire extinguisher. See the DNR website for specific requirements.


Boating Safety tips specific to Lake Vermilion

This is a summary of boating safety issues specific to Lake Vermilion. Much of the information in this section came from an excellent YouTube video that was produced in 2016 by the owner of Vermilion Dam Lodge, Ed Tausk.. We encourage you to watch the entire 5 minute video. It is the second link listed below.

  • Stay clear of white hazard marker buoys. Rock piles that are just below the surface are marked in main lake areas with white hazard marker buoys (shown in photo on left). Stay well clear because these only mark rock piles in the vicinity and not necessarily directly over the marker. It is important to understand that only the main areas in the lake are marked. Smaller bays are not marked. If you see a buoy out of place on the lake, call Timbuktu at 218-666-2434 (ask for Dawn or Matt). Matt Cline out of Timbuktu is responsible for placing and removing of buoys around the lake.
  • Stay on main boat routes that are marked on maps when traveling at high speed. Also, stay well off shorelines and points.
  • Red and green cones mark narrow safe passageways. Stay between the colors (shown in the photo on left)


Boating safety courses

Periodically, boating safety classes are offered in the Tower and Cook areas by organizations like the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. We will post information on this website and on our Facebook page relating to this topic as it becomes available.

The DNR also offers online boat and water safety education.  Learn more about that at this link:


For more information on all our boating safety activities or to volunteer to assist, please contact activity coordinator