The following excerpts were taken from the 'Wisconsin Boating Regulations'. These are only a FEW of the many rules. Check with the DNR for a complete listing of the actual rules - this summary is not intended to be relied upon as the final authority.
100 Feet for Swimmers: It is unlawful for any boat or water skier to operate or approach closer than 100 feet to any skin diver's flag or any swimmer unless the boat is part of the skin diving operation or is accompanying the swimmer.
Personal Water Craft (PWC): Slow-no-wake zone 200 feet from shore and 100 feet from any other boat/object, no person may operate a PWC from sunset to sunrise, no one under 12 years of age may operate a PWC, persons between the age of 12 and 16 must be in possession of a valid state-approved boating safety student certificate to operate a PWC, each person must be wearing a life-jacket, no towing unless the PWC is designed to seat at least 3 persons, etc.
Personal Flotation Devices (PFD's) / Life Jackets: Must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and in good condition. Boats - at least one appropriate type PFD of the proper size must be available for each person on board. Most boats greater than 16 feet in length also require at least one (throwable) buoyant cushion or ring buoy on board. Federal PFD Wear Regulation for Children - Children under 13 years of age (that are not in a cabin or below deck) must wear a PFD on all recreational boats while underway (see US Coast Guard rule for clarification/details).
Speed and Wake: It is unlawful to operate a motorboat within 100 feet of any dock, raft, pier, or buoyed restricted area at a speed in excess of slow-no-wake. Unlawful to operate a motorboat at a speed that is greater than reasonable and prudent under existing conditions and to avoid colliding with anything. It is unlawful to create hazardous wakes.
Age Restrictions: No person under the age of 10 may operate a motorboat. No person under 12 may operate a PWC. Persons between 10 and 12 years old may operate a motorboat (except a PWC) if accompanied by a parent or guardian or a person at least 18 years of age designated by parent or guardian. Persons between 12 and 16 years of age may operate a motorboat (except a PWC) only if they have successfully completed a DNR prescribed Boating Safety Course and possess a safety certificate issued by the DNR. Parents or guardians are punishable by law for knowingly allowing unauthorized persons to operate a motorboat. Accompanied means "aboard the same boat". A person at least 16 years old may operate a motorboat only if he or she has completed a boating safety course that is accepted by the Wisconsin DNR. A person born before January 1, 1989, is exempt from the safety course requirement.
Wisconsin Towing: Must be at least two persons in the tow boat - one to operate the boat, one to observe the person being towed. Only permitted between sunrise and sunset. Except for the pick-up and drop areas, one must stay at least 100 feet from shore, other boats, PWC, marked swimming area, etc.
Common Sense: Be Courteous & Responsible - think about the other person. Keep an alert lookout - bad things can happen very quickly. (Murphy's law: If something bad can happen it will happen.) Regardless of age and abilities - wear a life jacket. If the boat capsizes but floats - stay with it. Don't be intoxicated. When in doubt - contact the DNR.
Boating in Wisconsin: dnr.wi.gov/topic/boat/
Reporting violations: dnr.wi.gov/contact/hotline.html