Saturday, May 7 marks the opening day of boating season here in Seattle. Seattle is home to a large number of boat owners, unfortunately this region is also one of the leaders in boating fatalities. An average of 25 people die in boating accidents in Washington State every year. Now is the right time to take a boating safety course and understand the requirements necessary to obtain a Boater Education Card.
Washington boaters are required by law to take and pass a boater education course. Boater’s from age 12 to 35 years old are required to carry the card when operating a boat of 15 horsepower or more in Washington’s waterways. Soon the law will also apply to older boaters. The card requirement is phased in through 2014. Boaters born before Jan. 1, 1955, are exempt.
Boaters that have safety training are less likely to end up in accidents on the water. To meet the new education requirements, boaters can take approved courses in a classroom, online or by taking a home study course. Once the course is passed, boaters pay $10 for the card, which is good for life. The majority of in-person classes are offered between the fall and spring months, with fewer classes available during summer months. Course topics include basic boat handling, safety equipment, navigational rules and boating emergencies.
Information is available online at www.parks.wa.gov/boating or call (360) 902-8555. Not only will this new required boater education card increase safety on the waterways it may also reduce your boat insurance by 10 – 15 percent.