Should you take a boater’s education course before you hit the water this summer?

Power BoatFrom April 20-26, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) encourage boaters to “Spring Aboard” by enrolling in a boating education course.

Working in partnership with the states, some providers are offering discounts for students who enroll in or complete a course during the Spring Aboard campaign. It is a unified effort to remind boaters to prepare for boating season.

“An informed and knowledgeable boat operator is more likely to recognize hazardous conditions on the water and avoid a boating mishap,” said NASBLA President Eleanor Mariani. “Classroom courses are offered through local boating safety organizations, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons. Online courses are also available and provide state-specific information. Completion increases your chances for having fun on the water.”

Florida law requires completion of an approved course, verified by NASBLA as meeting the national boating education standard, for individuals born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, who operate a motorboat of 10 horsepower or greater.

“Florida’s boating accident statistics indicate that 70 to 80 percent of vessel operators involved in fatal accidents never completed a formal boating education,” said FWC Capt. Tom Shipp. “We’re hoping to decrease those numbers across the board.”

Florida Boating Education Courses

In Georgia, it is now mandatory for boat operators to complete a boater’s education course.

As of July 1, 2014, all persons born on or after January 1, 1998 that operate any motorized vessel on the waters of the state must have completed a boat education course approved by the department prior to such operation.  A person is exempt if he or she is:

  • a person licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel;

  • a person operating on a private lake or pond;

  • a non-resident who has in his or her possession proof that he or she has completed a NASBLA approved boater education course or equivalency examination from another state.

For more information on boater education in Georgia, please visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ website.

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