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Skipper’s Corner – Time to Obtain Your Boating License Is Ticking Away!

I have never been a fan of licensing everything we do. It goes against my grain. You need licenses to metal detect in New York State. There is both salt and freshwater fishing licensing. Hunting licensing, special permits to hike in certain places, shell fishing permits, and pool permits for the town you pay your taxes to. It’s not enough to have a car driver’s license but you need another one for your motorcycle. There are permits and licensing for everything. Even parking at your own town LIRR station. I view it as BS government overreach. But there is one area where a form of licensing has been made into law in 2020 and that is the necessity of taking and passing a state-approved Boating Safety Course. It has become a necessity due to the plethora of underqualified boat and Jet Ski owners who have no clue as to the rules and courtesies of piloting a boat.

Unfortunately, deaths as a result of boating accidents have dramatically increased over the last decade. Interestingly it coincides with the public desire and submission to salesmen’s pitches for bigger boats, larger and multiple outboards, and Jet Skis with more speed. They love to zip around and harass sensible boaters. This has made me change my position and I totally support state-required boating courses. Even though I think the fines are ridiculously low (Up to $250) and the lack of policing will make enforcement highly improbable, but it’s a start.
Here’s the deal. If you were born from 1993 to 2023 and you have not taken the state-approved Boating Safety Course, passed it, and have your certificate, then you are in default and should not be operating a power boat or Jet Ski without it. All those born after Jan 1, 1978, must complete the course by 2024 and anyone born before then must complete it by 2025. Currently, non-motor power boats such as kayaks, canoes, row boats, and sailboats are exempt. Those who rent power boats are not required to pass the course, the faulty reasoning being that the company that rents the boat out will show the renter all the safety rules (Ridiculous, someone must have had a good lobbyist).
These courses are readily available all year long from the Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Boat Squadrons. There are local branches of these groups and they advertise in Long Island Boating World and are posted in almost every marine supply outlet. Some give it for free, others charge $10. It’s not much to save a life. If you buy a brand-new boat, you have 120 days to get your certificate while enjoying it, though I think allowing this, borders on insanity. You lose nothing and gain everything by taking this course pronto! Every member of the family should have one. I have taken it 3 times over the years, and I am happy to take it again. It only improves your seamanship. And by the way, some marine insurers give you a discount if you prove you took the course.

See you on the water!
Captain Eddy