Boating Safety

Rules and regulations


This is a non-inclusive summary of some of the key rules and regulations imposed by the State of New Hampshire and Maine for operating a boat on Great East Lake, and some common sense courtesies.

For more information, please refer to the following links:

New Hampshire Marine Patrol
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Observe headway speed laws.

That means 6 mph or less when you’re within 150 feet (NH) or 200 feet (ME) of shore, rafts, other boats or swimmers. The entire Copp Brook, Scribner River, First Basin, and channel leading to the boat landing are all headway speed areas. Please also use care not to churn up the lake bottom in shallow areas, which can lead to increased algae and cyanobacteria growth.

Watch your wakes.

Almost any boat can make a large wake — not just wake boats. The biggest wakes come from boats operating at mid speed, plowing through the water and not on a plane. A boat making a large wake can still cause damage to shorelines and boats tied up to docks, create erosion, damage animal and loon habitats and cause dangerous situations for swimmers, smaller boats and kayaks.

If you’re making a large wake for water sports, please stay as close to the center of the lake as possible, and keep aware of how your wake may impact others.

As the Water Sports Association reminds us, you are responsible for your own wake. For additional information, please go to WSIA Wake Responsibly or BoatUS Wakeboat Etiquette

Right of way.

Swimmers and non-motorized boats such as canoes, kayaks and sailboats always have the right of way. Please be attentive.

Age and certification.

  • NH – must be 16 years old to operate a boat or PWC over 25 HP. Anyone who operates a boat or PWC over 25 HP must have a NH Boating Education Certificate.
  • ME – Must be 12 years or older to operate a boat with 10 HP or greater, unless under supervision of someone at least 16 years old. No one under 16 may operate a PWC. Persons 16 and 17 may operate PWC if they have completed an approved safety education course, or are accompanied by a person 18 or older.

Reckless operation.

Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense, and dangerous to you, your passengers and others. Other reckless operation includes weaving through congested traffic, prolonged circling, or cutting across the wake or bow of another boat at greater than headway speed.


All boats must have navigational lights on when operating between sunrise and sunset.

Heads up for Loons and other wildlife.

As we’ve all experienced, loons can pop up anywhere. Please stay alert for loons and other wildlife and keep a distance, especially if a loon has chicks in tow. Be aware of how your wake may impact wildlife and nests.
Noise. Sound travels easily over the water, especially at night. Please use common sense and courtesy, and keep music to reasonable levels especially when operating near shore.


Please keep a trash receptacle in your boat, and don’t throw trash overboard.


Both NH Marine Patrol and the Maine Warden Service encourage citizens to report violations so they follow up and help maintain safety on the lake.

To report boating violations, please contact:

For emergencies, always dial 911

New Hampshire:
New Hampshire Marine Patrol

Maine Warden Service

Boat Launch

The main public boat launch for Great East Lake is located in Acton, Maine, and accessed via Canal Road to Robertson Road. The boat launch is operated by the State of Maine.

Please say hello to the GEL Lake Hosts who will be checking boats and trailers for invasive species.

Registration and Milfoil Stickers

If you primarily use your boat in Maine or New Hampshire, your boat must be registered in one of those states.

For boats registered in states other than Maine or NH, each state requires the purchase of Milfoil Sticker. Maine and NH have a reciprocity agreement, so boats registered in either state do not need a milfoil sticker from the other state.

NH Milfoil Sticker Law
Maine Milfoil Sticker Law


There is no marina or gas service on the lake.

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