Summer is upon us and that means good weather and BOATING season. Did you know that anyone operating a boat with a 15 horsepower motor or greater (or a personal watercraft) in Washington’s waterways must possess a Boater Safety Education Card? Those of you in the self-sufficiency, leave no carbon footprint camp of canoers, kayakers, drift boaters and sailors are exempt from this requirement (at least for now!).
Those born before January 1, 1955 are also exempt from needing a Boater Safety Education Card. Apparently Washington State figures that you know what you are doing by the age of 60, although the law may be re-visited after watching the behavior and boating practices of sexagenarians during Seafair weekend. Other exemptions are listed in RCW 79A.60.640. But let’s just say that unless you are a commercial fisherman or a member of the U.S. Coast Guard with a marine license, you’ll need to get the Card.
How do you get your Card? Go to http://parks.state.wa.us/442/Mandatory-Boater-Education for approved boater education classes and the application form. You can attend classes or take an on-line course in the privacy of your home or favorite coffee shop.
If you’re thinking you don’t need the Card because you’ll be boating in Oregon or Canada, you’re wrong. Most states now have a boating card requirement similar to ours, including Oregon and our friendly neighbor to the north. Yet unlike Washington, Oregon and Canada do not offer exemptions based upon your age. Apparently just being older doesn’t mean you necessarily know how to operate a boat in Oregon or Canada. Probably a good call.