The state Parks and Recreation Commission is urging boaters to make sure they're prepared for the upcoming season by taking – and passing – a boater education course.
In Washington, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15 horsepower engine—or greater—must carry the Boater Education Card to prove they have passed a boater education course.
“Boating is a great activity, but only if it’s done safely,” said Wade Alonzo, the state boating program manager. “National and statewide statistics tell us that people who successfully complete a boating-safety course are better informed on how to avoid accidents or tragedy on the water. We encourage all boaters to take a course, even if they’re not required to carry a card.”
A one-time fee of $10 is charged for the card after completion of an authorized course.
Other boating-safety facts include:
• Of the accidents where the level of operator education was known, 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator never received boating education instruction, according to the Coast Guard.
• Boat operators born before Jan. 1, 1955 are exempt from the Washington requirement but may choose to get a card if they plan to go boating in Canada or Oregon, which require proof of having completed a boating education course. The Washington State Boater Education Card is valid there.
• More than 290,000 Washingtonians have a Boater Education Card. Officials hope that number will reach 300,000 by the end of 2017.
Information about courses offered through or approvd by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is available at http://www.nasbla.org/ and at www.boatered.org.