When a Boater’s Education card was first required a few years ago, it was a long time before I needed to get my card. Boy, time flies! For anyone under the age of 51, a Boater’s Education card is now required when operating any watercraft with 15 or more horsepower. For those under 60, you will need a card in 2014. If you’re older than 60, apparently you are grandfathered/grandmothered in, and don’t need a card!
When you are ready to get your card, the best place to start is the Washington State Parks web site: (http://www.parks.wa.gov/437/Education-Information). To obtain a card, you must complete an approved boater education course. One option is a classroom course, offered by the Coast Guard and other local organizations. A home study course is also available, and there are also a number of courses offered online. Being cheap and lazy, I opted for the free online course offered by the “Boat U.S. Foundation.”
This course I took was divided into six sections, each section culminating in a quiz. Once all sections are complete, I took a 75-question final exam. A score of 80% is required to pass the final exam. (Note there is no way to skip directly to the final exam!) I invested 5-6 hours on completing the entire course. Although much of the course content was common sense, I learned a lot about navigation markers and other topics more applicable to boating in open waters.
After passing the final exam, I was able to print out a completion certificate. I printed two copies of my certificate. One copy is used as a temporary Boater’s Education Card, and the other copy I sent with my application and one-time $10 fee to the Park Department. Within a few weeks, I received my official card in the mail – and now I’m set for life!
Remember, you need to carry your card with you when operating a boat or personal watercraft! The Skagit Marine Patrol notes they always check boaters for their card, and have been primarily issuing warnings. However, the fine is $87 if you are cited. See you all on the lake!