Do you know which states require the successful completion of a boating safety course? Several states require that an operator 18 years old and under complete a boating safety course. The state of Alabama requires that all operators born after April 28, 1954 have a valid certificate of successful completion of an Alabama Marine Police Division-approved safe boating course to obtain a boating license.
There are many benefits to taking and passing a safety course, the least of which is a discount on your boat insurance! The obvious benefit is a greater awareness of the importance of safety in operating your vessel.
For a quick reference list by state of the legal requirements, check out the United States Power Squadrons’ web site at http://www.americasboatingcourse.com/abc_website/state_boating_law.htm, or the U.S. Coast Guard’s site at http://www.uscgboating.org/regulations/state-boating-laws.php. Both the U.S. Power Squadrons and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offer boating and personal watercraft safety courses for a small fee. Your state may also offer additional state sanctioned boating courses.
Both the U.S. Power Squadrons, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offer excellent instruction in everything related to safely piloting a craft on U.S. waters. Some courses also offer information and advice regarding operating a craft in adjacent countries.
Even if you have never operated a watercraft, these courses provide in-depth, detailed instruction on the safe maneuvering of vessels in various conditions. You’ll learn the “rules of the road”, and what is expected of you as a responsible captain or passenger.
Experienced operators will still find information of interest during the course, and although you can take some boating safety courses online, the camaraderie of like-minded people in a real-time classroom can be a very enjoyable experience. Most of the instructors have been sailing for years, and their sage advice can’t be duplicated by the online experience.
You can find a long list of organizations offering online and real time instruction at http://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/boating-safety-courses.php.
Expect to invest a fee for the boating safety course of approximately $30-$50, and a time period of at least 4-8 weeks. You’ll usually learn information about whatever boating conditions are predominate in your state (river navigation, lake navigation, ocean navigation). You’ll also learn the meaning of all the various boating flags, channel markers, safety requirements and vessel licensing requirements. You’ll practice tying useful knots, learn about the most effective ways to anchor your boat, learn proper towing and trailering maneuvers, and how to prevent the most common boating accidents.
With the successful completion of an approved course, you may also qualify for discounts on boat rentals, fuel discounts, and discounts in certain marine supply stores.
Most boating courses are offered year round, but they tend to be most available in the spring and summer. Check with your local paper, or local branch of the Department of Natural Resources. You can also search online for boat safety courses being held near you.
Enjoy your boating experience knowing that you are following important safety guidelines, and you are equipped for whatever conditions might come your way. Take a boating safety course and meet some new friends today!