I live on a good sized canal in a subdivision in Florida, USA.

  1. Is it legal for me to taxi down the canal about 100 yards?
  2. Is it legal for me to taxi down a large main channel which is part of the Gulf of Mexico to take off?

Also, when meeting a boat, who has right of way: the boat or the seaplane?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking if this is physically possible or legally permitted? $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Aug 16, 2016 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ Closely related, but more specific : aviation.stackexchange.com/q/177/69 $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Aug 16, 2016 at 4:56
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    $\begingroup$ Ask Seaplane pilots assn. they have s book the goes through all the rules in 50 states and lists seaplane-friendly waters $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Aug 16, 2016 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ Is it legally permitted? who has right of way in channel boats or sea plane? I assume the plane is treated as a boat. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Bump - this is a good question. I would suspect it centers on who owns the waterway and if it's private if they have given you permission. $\endgroup$
    – Pugz
    Aug 19, 2016 at 0:29

2 Answers 2


I would advise checking out the FAA's seaplane handbook for more information. In general local ordinances tend to be the issue here and not the FAA's regulations.

You can find the right of way rules in 14 CFR 91.115

§ 91.115 Right-of-way rules: Water operations.

(a) General. Each person operating an aircraft on the water shall, insofar as possible, keep clear of all vessels and avoid impeding their navigation, and shall give way to any vessel or other aircraft that is given the right-of-way by any rule of this section.

(b) Crossing. When aircraft, or an aircraft and a vessel, are on crossing courses, the aircraft or vessel to the other's right has the right-of-way.

(c) Approaching head-on. When aircraft, or an aircraft and a vessel, are approaching head-on, or nearly so, each shall alter its course to the right to keep well clear.

(d) Overtaking. Each aircraft or vessel that is being overtaken has the right-of-way, and the one overtaking shall alter course to keep well clear.

(e) Special circumstances. When aircraft, or an aircraft and a vessel, approach so as to involve risk of collision, each aircraft or vessel shall proceed with careful regard to existing circumstances, including the limitations of the respective craft.

There is also a note from the hand book,

Pilots are encouraged to obtain the USCG Navigation Rules, International-Inland, M16672.2D, available from the U.S. Government Printing Office. These rules apply to all public or private vessels navigating upon the high seas and certain inland waters.

Although you should not expect your average boater to understand or even be aware of the FAA regulations on this. As such caution should always be used. Keep in mind that in most if not all states you don't even need a license to operate most personal sized boats (under 65 ft. generally).

You will need to check with your local municipality (who ultimately has jurisdiction over the water way most likely). Unfortunately they may have local ordinances that are more intended for land based aircraft but may incidentally apply to you. Things like noise abatement may also stand in your way, keep in mind a plane is significantly louder than most boats.

This FAQ covers a lot of really good questions about where you can and can't land and other seaplane related topics.

Of interest to you may be Question 2

2. Where can I keep my seaplane?

A seaplane can be kept at a certified seaplane base with permission, or at an airport if it is equipped with amphibious floats. If you want to keep your seaplane "off airport", however, you will need to explore the issue with your state aeronautics office, local government and the owner of the waterway. Some specific problems include mooring restrictions imposed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, seaplane base licensing requirements imposed by state governments and zoning regulations imposed by local jurisdictions.

In this kind of situation I would personally seek out a local lawyer that specializes in aviation related matters (a call to your local GA field may get you a name). Unfortunately many local authorities don't always understand the regulations and many don't even know its with in their power to regulate such operations since the cases tend to be few and far between. In other cases older forgotten regulations may have relegated them selves to a dusty file cabinet that no one remembers. Other local sea plane owners may also be of help here.

It is also worth considering if you have the width to actually pull this off. Even the biggest boats I have been on (in and around the 55ft. size) are generally no wider than around 15ft. at the widest point. A Cessna 172 has a 36ft. wingspan which is something worth thinking about.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It sounds like section 91.115 is saying, "If you float, you're a boat". $\endgroup$
    – user19474
    Nov 3, 2016 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @user19474, it looks more like "if you float, you're a boat, but the real boats have right-of-way". $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Nov 4, 2016 at 2:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark The rules above seem to apply to boats and planes equally. The only one that doesn't is section a, which seems to be saying "Stay out of shipping lanes, if you can". $\endgroup$
    – user19474
    Nov 4, 2016 at 15:57

Yes, you can, unless limited by local law, unless you're taxiing on private property which is unlikely if part of the Inter Coastal waterway However there's so many little rules and laws locally, you may want to further check with the Sea Plane Assn.


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