Common sense and respect for others are the way to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone using Copake Lake.

The CLCS is not an enforcement agency. It is our mission to provide education and to promote safety and conservation.

Concerns about speed, noise or safe handling of any motorized watercraft on the lake should be directed to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department at 518-828-3344.


  • Watercraft must not exceed 5 mph between 8 PM and 9 AM. (Town Ordinance)
  • All watercraft must slow down to 5 mph when less than 100 ft from shore, dock or other vessel, or in ‘no wake’ zones. (NYS Law)

Personal flotation devices (PFDs)

  • PFDs must be worn by all children under the age of 12 while in a watercraft. (NYS Law)
  • A PFD must be readily available on board for each person on board a watercraft (not necessarily worn at all times). (NYS Law)
Water Skiing
  • Water skiers must have a ‘look out’ over the age of 9. (NYS Law)
  • Water skiing after sunset is prohibited (NYS Law sec. 73-2 Navigation law)
  • Boating while impaired or intoxicated is subject to fines or imprisonment. (NYS Law)

Safety equipment

  • A fire extinguisher (class "B"), visual distress signal, whistle/ horn, and anchor with sufficient line are required on all motorized watercraft. Exception: PWC's do not require an anchor or fire extinguisher.


  • All watercraft must have effective mufflers. (Town Ordinance).
  • Watercraft noise should not exceed 75 decibels. (NYS Law)

Right of Way

  • Motorized watercraft must yield to swimmers and non-motorized watercraft. (NYS Law)


  • As of May 1, 2014, anyone born after May 1, 1996 must have a Boating Safety Certificate in order to operate a motorboat in New York State. A certificate can be obtained by completing a state approved Boating Safety Course. The required certificate must be carried by the individual while operating the boat. (NYS Law)
  • Click here to find a Boating Safety Course near you

Personal watercraft (NYS Law)

  • All operators, regardless of age, must have successfully completed an approved boating safety course, and carry the required certificate with them while operating a PWC. The minimum age for operating a PWC is 14. Click here for more information and to find a course close to you.
  • Operators must wear an approved personal flotation device (PFD)
  • The operator must be attached with a cut-off device
  • Personal watercraft may not be operated within 500 feet of a designated swimming area.
  • Personal watercraft can only be operated between sunrise and sundown.
  • Reckless operation, including wake jumping, weaving through traffic, or other maneuvers that jeopardize safety, are prohibited.


  • All motorized watercraft must be registered and display the registration numbers. (NYS LAW)


  • Help keep unwanted aquatic plants and zebra mussels out of the lake. Thoroughly wash your boat and flush the cooling system away from the shoreline.
  • Avoid spilling gasoline or oil. Repair leaks immediately.
  • Dispose of litter properly in bins on shore.
  • Do not use soaps or cleansers in or near the lake.

The above is only a partial listing of NYS laws and regulations. Download the booklet entitled "New York State Recreational Boater's Guide" is available here or call 518 474-0445 for complete information.

Lake Management

2012-2013 Lake Management Plan

Manage Your Watershed

Winter Safety

Grant Committee

Resources on Lake and Watershed Management


Copake Lake Conservation Society       PO Box 37       Craryville, New York 12521     Site Map
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