I’ll be honest; I may not have always been compliant with the boating laws in my state. I wasn’t trying to get around the laws, I just didn’t know them. I’m guessing I’m probably not the only one.
It’s a family tradition to go to my aunt and uncle’s house a couple of times during the summer (including the 4th of July) for a cookout and a day on the water. Not only do my parents have a boat, my aunt and uncle live on a lake with all the vessels such a residence would have.
It’s important to know that boating rules and regulations are different in every State and can vary depending on your age and the type of watercraft you are operating. This website, created by the United States Power Squadrons, gives a good high-level overview of State laws, but you’ll need to check out your individual State website for specific guidelines.
There are a couple of companies that offer an online boater’s safety course. The one I used, Boat-ed.com, currently offers a test for 42 states. You can complete the online course at your own pace and you don’t pay until you pass the test. What you do from there depends on your State. In Michigan, the certificate of course completion served as my entry into a proctored exam at my local Sheriff’s Department. After passing that test (which was quite hard) I got my boater’s safety certificate, which is now laminated and inside a waterproof wallet, ready for my next lakeside adventure. Man does it feel good to know I’m compliant.
Even if your state doesn’t require it, a boater’s safety course is a smart idea for any operator. The more certified people we have behind the controls of boats or PWCs, the safer the waterways. According to 2010 United States Coast Guard data, 84% of boating accidents causing a death occurred with operators who hadn’t taken a safety course. Passing a certified safety course may also make you eligible for a discount on your boater’s insurance policy premium. Your insurance agency will be able to check if the safety course you took qualifies.
And if you don’t have a standalone boat or PWC policy, consider talking to a Foremost Agency about the importance of a specialized policy that offers the coverages that fit your boat and lifestyle.
We’re heading into boating season; make sure you’re equipped with the knowledge to stay safe on the water. Know the laws before you launch.