Does federal admiralty and maritime law apply to the operation of my pleasure boat?

If someone’s operating a pleasure boat and they’re involved in a boating accident, often times they ask the question, “Well, it’s just a personal boat. Would the federal maritime laws apply?” The answer is potentially yes. The type of vessel that you’re on does not determine whether or not the admiralty laws apply. What determines that is actually the body of water that you’re on, so if you’re in federal waters, then the federal laws would apply. If you’re in state or local waters, then those laws would apply.