Safe boating requires knowing how to operate the boat and follow boating etiquette and rules. Boating is not as regulated as driving, so not everyone learns the basics of boating safety before heading out on the water. Whether you’re a boating veteran or learning how to drive a boat for the first time, safety on the water should be your top priority. A boat safety course is a great place to start.
What are the benefits of taking a boat safety course?
The number one reason to take a boater safety course is increased safety on the water. U.S. Coast Guard stats indicate that in 2020, among fatal boating accidents where the cause of death was known, 75% occurred on boats where the operator didn’t have safety education.
Become a skilled boater
Even if you have never had an accident, you can benefit from the information in a boat safety course. You’ll learn to operate the boat, get practice handling it, and develop other skills and knowledge. Skills you’ll learn include how to tie boating knots, which will make your time on the water more enjoyable. Your course should also cover the parts of a boat and what they do. That basic knowledge can make a boat safety course worthwhile, especially if you’re buying a boat for the first time.
Learning about hull designs and engine configurations can help you understand what kind of boat is best for you.
Meet your state’s boating requirements
Boating regulations aren’t as standardized as driving regulations, though most states have a boater education requirement. Depending on the state, you may be required to get a boating license, and taking a boat safety course can help you pass the test. That’s especially true for younger boaters who are more likely to need a license. Learn more about boating license age.
Save money on insurance
In addition to improving your safety, state-approved boat safety courses may qualify you for boat insurance discounts on your boat insurance policy.
Where can you take a boaters safety course?
Boat safety courses are available in-person and online. Due to the practical nature of the information, you might want to consider an in-person course if one is available to you. Whatever boat safety class you choose, ensure that your state approves it. Courses approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) should meet state standards. You can find a database of NASBLA-approved courses online or contact your state’s boating law administrator for more information about safety courses in your area.
How long is the boating safety course?
That depends on the course and the state. The state of Massachusetts offers an in-person boating course that runs 10-12 hours, generally over several days, while Maine offers a boating safety course that is a 6-hour classroom course. Online courses vary by provider and your state’s safety education requirements.