Legislation passed last September now requires all Texas boaters born on or after September 1, 1993, and operating personal watercraft, motor vessels with 15 or more horsepower or wind-powered vessels greater than 14 feet, to have mandatory boater safety education. The catch is, until recently a Texas boater had to break out their wallet to pay for a course, which started at around $20. Now, however, the BoatUS Foundation offers lone-star state boaters a no-cost online boating safety course approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife and by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and recognized by the US Coast Guard as exceeding the minimum requirements for the National Recreational Boating Safety Program.
Boaters who successfully pass the BoatUS Foundation online course can print their own Certificate of Completion and then the state will automatically send the official Boater Education Card to their homes. This card must be kept within a boater’s possession when boating along with picture identification. While all boaters born before September 1, 1993, are exempt from required certification, passing the course could earn a discount on a boat’s insurance policy.
“The course is loaded with interactive animations, videos and photos to give boaters an education that goes well beyond the basics of boating,” said BoatUS Foundation President Chris Edmonston. “It includes videos that demonstrate important safety devices such as visual distress signals, how to get help in an emergency, how to prevent and extinguish fires aboard your boat, and the best way to fit a life jacket to a child so they will not slip out,” he added.
“The best part of all is the course is free and can be taken at home, and it’s designed so that you can stop and then continue at any time. I will guarantee you that everyone will learn something new,” said Edmonston.
To take the course, go to www.BoatUS.org. For more information about the Texas Boater Certification Card and application process, go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us/faq/learning/boater_education