Cooler summer weather may have played a role in reducing the number of deaths to 12.
DNR Recreational Safety chief Bill Engfer says new, more comfortable life preservers may also be a factor.
The Labor Day weekend is the traditional close of the boating season. Last year 20 people died in boating accidents.
Engfer says most of the victims this year would have survived if they had a life vest. Only one drowning victim was wearing a life preserver.