World-class fishing, crystal blue waters, endless sunshine – there’s so much about Florida’s waterways to enjoy. During the week of March 17-23, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourage all boaters to take part in the national Spring Aboard – Take A Boating Education Course campaign by taking a boating safety course.
Taking a boat out for a day on the water should be fun, and the best way to ensure that everyone has a great boating experience is by having a properly educated operator. Often even the most casual boaters think they know all they need to about boating, sometimes with deadly consequences. Too many boaters are confused or unaware of basic rules about navigation, alcohol use and safety equipment. The solution? Boating education.
“Education is the key. If boat operators have taken a boating safety education course, it’s much more likely they and their passengers will have a safe and enjoyable experience on the water,” said Maj. Rob Rowe, leader of FWC’s Boating and Waterways section. “U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that, of the accidents where the level of operator education was known, 81 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction.”
In 2019, all boaters 31 years of age or younger are required to have a Boating Safety Education ID Card to legally operate a boat of 10 hp or greater in Florida. Even if you were born before Jan. 1, 1988, or have already had some boating education, taking a boater education course is a great idea.
Many course providers will offer incentives or course discounts for students who enroll in or complete a course during the Spring Aboard campaign. For a summary of Florida’s regulations and available courses, visit MyFWC.com/Boating.
“Everyone interested in boating should take a course – it’s just the smart thing to do,” said Rowe. “Boaters have many ways to get educated, from classroom courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons to online offerings available anytime, day or night. There’s no reason to head out on the water without this knowledge.”
NASBLA is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. The association offers a variety of resources, including training, model acts, education standards and publications. Through a national network of thousands of professional educators, law enforcement officers and volunteers, NASBLA affects the lives of over 73.5 million American boaters.