Keuka Lake in upstate New York has a unique Y-shaped form among the Finger Lakes. If you want to operate a commercial vessel on the lake, you need to understand insurance, licensing, safety, permits, and environmental rules. Different agencies like NY State Parks, the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Keuka Lake Watershed Association (KLWA) oversee compliance.

GetMyBoat operators must follow local rules strictly, including getting the right registrations and permits, meeting vessel and captain requirements, using the correct docks and areas, and obeying local laws and facility rules. We've gathered important information to help you navigate Keuka Lake's boating regulations.

Public Vessel Certification and Licensing:

NYS requires a Public Vessel license for powered watercraft engaged in commercial activities on its navigable waters, including passenger transport. Those with a valid USCG License are exempt from the examination. All vessels on state waters must annually pass an inspection and hold a valid NYS Certificate of Inspection (COI) as a Public Vessel (PV)

Additional details, such as eligibility criteria, vessel and license applications, and a study guide, can be accessed through the following link:Commercial Vessels.


Operating a commercial vessel on Keuka Lake necessitates having both commercial and marine insurance. These insurance policies act as crucial protection measures to mitigate potential financial losses in case of accidents or injuries.

Contact Boat Charter Insurance, our trusted insurance partner, for more information.

Boater Safety Certification:

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1983, who wants to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft in New York, including charter boat operators, must complete an approved boater safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Certificate. Additionally, all operators of motorized vessels must have a boating safety certificate by January 1, 2025. For additional information and a list of approved courses, please refer to Keuka Lake courses.

Operating Permit:

To operate charter boats on Keuka Lake, you must obtain a charter boat operating permit from NYS Parks and register your vessel as a Public Vessel with NYS Parks. Your application must include a letter from the marina where you plan to operate your charter boat. The letter should confirm that you have permission to operate from the marina and should include information about any relevant New York State ordinances. You must also include copies of your vessel registration and inspection records, as well as a map of your intended charter boat routes. Please note that approval of your application may depend on the demand for charter boat services in the region.

Additional information can be obtained by phone at 518-474-0445 or by email at

Pick Up / Drop off :

  • Village of Penn Yan Municipal Marina: Located at 290-298 Water St, Penn Yan, NY 14527. It is a large marina with plenty of parking and easy access to the water.
  • Hammondsport Village Marina: Located at the south end of the lake 35 W Lake Rd, Hammondsport, NY 14840. While not as large as Penn Yan Marina, it remains a favored location for commercial boat operators.

Apart from these marinas, there are other public and private boat launch spots on Keuka Lake. It is important to confirm with the marina or launch operator if they allow commercial boat pickups.

Commercial vessel operators are also required to adhere to additional regulations, including:

  • Prior to operation, all vessels must undergo inspection.
  • All Vessels must be registered with the DMV
  • Clean, drain, and dry your boat and gear before and after using them in any water body. This will help to remove any AIS that may be attached to your boat.
  • On commercial vessels, all passengers are required to wear properly fitting life jackets at all times.
  • Commercial boats must be equipped with an adequate number of fire extinguishers.
  • Operators of commercial boats must take measures to prevent lake pollution, including oil spills and sewage discharges.
  • The maximum speed for commercial vessels on Keuka Lake is 45 mph during daylight hours and 25 mph during nighttime hours.
  • There are specific areas on Keuka Lake where commercial boating is either restricted or prohibited, such as designated swimming areas and marinas.
  • Operating a commercial vessel on Keuka Lake while under the influence of alcohol is illegal.
  • Commercial boat operators must refrain from generating excessive noise.
  • It is essential for commercial boat operators to show respect for wildlife and their natural habitat.

Here are a few helpful links to help get you started: