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Water Safety and Risk Management

Water Safety is an ongoing concern for all of us at Madison Boats. There is an inherent risk in all watersports. We do our best to help reduce these risks but it is important that you operate within your capabilities and do all you can to further educate yourself on the watercraft, associated skills, and risks. Below are some links and information. 


Failure to follow these rules will result in immediate termination of their rental with no refund and minor will not be able to be unsupervised for the rest of the season.

  • Unsupervised Minors MUST ALWAYS WEAR THEIR PFD. 

  • Minors with their parents/guardian over 13 may remove their life jacket though Madison Boats STRONGLY advises against doing so.

  • All persons regardless of age must wear their PFD when on the water mat.

Waivers & Rules

There is an inherent risk in all watersports and related activities. Madison Boats retains the right

to deny access or use of our equipment or facilities for actions that cause or contribute to injuries

to self or others, disrupts other boater’s enjoyment of the water, inclement weather, assessment

of participants' boating capabilities, or the ability to provide necessary assistance services in the

event of an accident.

Before you go you should be aware that Madison Boats staff are not first responders, lifeguards, or certified professionals. If there is an emergency please call 911. 

By agreeing to rent a boat with Madison Boats you agree to Madison Boats Rules designed to reduce risk.

You will also be required to sign a waiver of liability before participating in the activity.

A couple highlights of the Rules include:

- No Alcohol and or Drugs: No participant may bring or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on our boats. 

- PFDs: All persons must have a PFD and Madison Boats strongly encourages wearing the PFD. Minors must wear their PFD at all times when not in a boat with their parent or guardian. Minors under 13 MUST wear their PFD at all times. 

- You will comply with all Federal, State and local laws, if you are unclear on laws please visit

- Boating is weather dependent. All people listed under this membership and guests, will heed all warnings and return to the boathouse at the first sign of storms, high winds, lightning, thunder, or severe weather.

- You are responsible for any damage or loss to the boats.

Waiver & Rules
Power Boat Safety

Power Boats & Boater Safety

We love that our pontoon boats can help people get out on Lake Mendota. That being said

there are a couple of things you should know before renting from us. 

  • NO Alcohol or Drugs. We do not allow you to bring or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I know, I know it's WI and it's a pontoon boat -what's the harm in some wine for the non-driver?  Alcohol is a major contributor to water accidents and it can result in what might have been minor incidents turning serious or even fatal. 

  • We require the captain (driver) to be over 25 and have their boater safety certificate if born after 1/1/1989.

  • It is a good idea for all captains/drivers to complete the full Boater Safety Certificate that is valid for life; however, if there is a short course valid till the end of the calendar year.  

  • Before you go out our staff will review weather conditions, how to operate the boat, and the rules. When possible, please review our complete list of Pontoon Boat Rules complete list of rules before you show up. 

Unsupervised Minor

Permission & Waivers for Minors

Our goal is to help people of all ages to get out and enjoy the wonder of our waters.

You are welcome to bring children of any age out with you. You will be asked to include

children when completing the waiver at check-in. 


If you are considering letting your 14+ child go out on the water without an adult PLEASE CONSIDER:

·   Does my child have the appropriate experience with water and boats to be on the water without an adult?

·   Does my child have the strength and boating experience to handle the current weather conditions?

·   Does my child have the appropriate maturity to make good decisions when on the water?


As you consider giving your child this access, please note that there is inherent risk in all water sports and there is real risk of injury and death. Madison Boats does not provide lifeguards and staff are not trained in water rescues, nor do they have the ability to monitor the water at all times. Of course, we do our best to provide support and notify officials at the first sign of a problem.

Unsupervised Permission for Minors 14-17 years old

We recognize there are many 14 - 17-year-olds that have a lot of water experience and maturity to make good decisions regarding water safety. You are now able to sign the Online Minor Waiver from where ever you are to give them permission for that day. This is valid only for the day that it is signed, and you must sign it every time your child wants to go out on the water. Minors ages 14 to 17 can rent a boat and be on the water without adult supervision by doing the following:

1)       Parent/Guardian must sign the ONLINE MINOR WAIVER

2)       Minor MUST keep their PFD on at all times

3)       Minor must listen to all directions from crew regarding weather and operating the watercraft

Reservations With an Adult Other Than Parent or Guardian:

For children looking to go out on the water with adults other than their parents/guardian we ask that you also sign the MINOR WAIVER. This is a great this is a great option for birthday parties, babysitters, etc. 

Please do the following for minors who will be going out with an adult that is not their parent or guardian (e.g., babysitter or birthday party):

1)       Parent/Guardian must sign the ONLINE MINOR WAIVER

2)       Minor MUST keep their PFD on at all times

3)       Minor must listen to all directions from crew regarding weather and operating the watercraft

Note: All minors must wear their PFD and for groups of 4+ the supervising adult must be on the water monitoring the children. For groups of under four, the adult can stay on shore if actively monitoring the minors at all times. 


Full Season Permission for 10-17 years old

To give your child the ability to go out without supervision all season long they must complete the Unsupervised Minor Waiver. To complete this waiver the minor must get their Paddle Sports Certificate or complete their Boater Safety Certificate. These courses are put on Boat-ed and give your child a greater understanding of boater safety. We suggest the Paddle Sports Certificate as it focuses on paddle sports but either will work for completing the permission form. Also the certificate is good for life and the child would not have to take it every year. 

Second please watch the Madison Boats risk review video.  Finally, you as the parent/guardian will need to sign the Unsupervised Rules and Waiver. It is best if you and the minor do this together. We recognize that not all parents are OK with all locations and so we have three separate Waivers -one for each location. Unfortunately, if you want your child to have access to all you will have to sign each one. 

Once you and your minor/dependent have completed these three steps they are able to rent a boat and go out without you being on site. They will be able to book online or walk up as normal and they will have to bring a copy (we suggest laminating) of their boater safety certificate. 

We know this is involved and it is only because we care that we are asking you and them to take these additional steps. 

Group Waiver


If you are bringing a group of minors (birthday party, school group, youth group) to go boating please we will need a waiver for every child. You can have them fill out the Minor Waiver Form listed above but the best way to do this is to email the following emails and have an event waiver created for your specific outing. You can then share a link to the waiver and all parents can sign anytime leading up the outing. You can be made an administrator of the event so you can make sure all waivers are signed ahead of time to avoid any disappointment.  For groups with minors, we do require adult supervision of no less than 10 kids to one adult however we suggest a ratio of four kids per adult.

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