Disclaimer: I am not a spokesperson for the US Coast Guard or ABYC. For an official interpretation of regulations or standards you must contact the US Coast Guard or other organization referenced..   More.....

Boating Safety

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Page 4 Subjects: Drinking, Designated Driver, Education:

Don't Drink And Drive!

Boating has an unfortunate reputation as being about boats and booze.  However, the vast majority of boaters and sailors know that alcohol and water is a deadly mix.  The best place for alcohol on a boat is locked in a locker until the boat is safely tied to the dock.

 Just as drinking and driving on land is dangerous and illegal, drinking and operating your boat is also dangerous and illegal.  U. S. Coast Guard statistics show that 19% (2017 Boating Statistics) of boating fatalities involve alcohol.  The law says you cannot operate a boat under the influence, and the level is set by Federal Law at 0.08% BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). Most US states have adopted this same BAC limit.  Furthermore, there have been many research studies done by the US Coast Guard and other boating organizations that show that alcohol has a much greater affect on your senses when underway on a boat than on land.  Early studies in the 1970's and 80's by the Coast Guard showed that four hours or more out on the water caused enough stress on a person that their reaction time and judgment became slower than if they had a single drink. Add alcohol to that and it is slowed even further.  In addition, alcohol diminishes your ability to see colors and makes it hard to differentiate red and green lights. It degrades your visual acuity as well, that is, your vision gets fuzzy.


Designated Driver:

If your guests  on board must drink, or if you go out on the boat at a party or event where there is drinking, someone must be the designated driver.

Ride Dry, Drive Dry -

Someone needs to stay sober to operate the boat.  The designated operator needs to be someone with adequate experience operating the boat.  This sounds obvious but accidents have occurred because the designated person had no experience operating the boat, or operating a boat at night. Your guests will still have fun, and they will do it safely with a safe sober experienced operator.

See Ride Dry, Drive Dry.


Take a boating course:

Canada requires recreational boaters to take a course and obtain a Boating Card.

Canadian Citizens can take a course for Canada's Boating Card  in English En Francais

In the USA most states now require a boat operator to take a boating course and some require you to take a test to get a boating card.  There are many courses available. All states either teach courses or have an on-line course available.  There are many organizations who give courses that are accepted by the states.  Examples are;

Boat US.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

US Power Squadron.

State Approved Boating Courses:

Beyond the Basics

The above courses cover only the basics.  Both the USCG Auxiliary (CG AUX) and the US Power Squadron (USPS) offer advanced courses that cover specifc subjects such as;

Personal Watercraft Operation (CG Aux)

Sailing (CG Aux)

Navigating with GPS (CG Aux)

Paddle Boats (CG Aux)

Boat Handling (USPS)

Offshore Navigation (USPS)

Engine Maintenance (USPS)

And More:  See

US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

US Power Squadron

USCG Licensing:

For those who want to go a step further and get a Coast Guard License there are commercial ( they charge for the course) Coast Guard Approved Courses available. These are primarily for Operators of Uninspected Passenger Vessels, (OUPV) carrying six or less passengers for hire (a six-pack license).  Of course you don't have to be a commercial operator.  You can get the license just to satisfy yourself, but the exam is the same.

CG Auxiliary Web Site on Licensing

See the Coast Guard list of approved courses:

A search on the internet for "Coast Guard Approved Courses"  will bring up many.

However, keep in mind that the licensing requirements go beyond the course.

Be 18 or older
Have 360 days document experience, 90 of those in the last 3 years
90 days on ocean or near coastal waters or the license will be inland waters only.
The License is limited to vessels under 100 gross tons.
Non US Citizens will be limited to undocumented vessels only.


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