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View Poll Results: Should recreational boaters be required to get a license?
Yes. 53 31.36%
No. 80 47.34%
Only if they operate near commercial traffic. 1 0.59%
Only if the boat is over x feet or x horsepower. 40 23.67%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 169. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-04-2015, 12:27   #271
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

Just to be clear, I'm not anti-government. I'm happy to pay lots of tax for services that are useful and effective. More government is not inherently bad, just as less government is not inherently good. Government is necessary for people to live together in large collections. Anything beyond a small village requires organized government, and yes, that costs money.

My opposition to mandatory licensing does not spring from any anti-gvt sentiment. Looking at the data, I simply don't see a significant problem. AND, the solutions tried don't appear to be efficacious.

But as always, I can be persuaded with actual evidence ... maybe
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Old 05-04-2015, 13:27   #272
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
That's the great thing about actually being willing to be swayed by real evidence; sometimes it leads you to unexpected places.

But once again, I (and many others here) are NOT saying education is a bad thing. We're trying to say that most programs (perhaps Portugal is an exception) as currently set up, don't appear to produce any measurable benefit. Is this really so hard to comprehend?

I believe (note my bias ) a high-quality mandatory education program, like the graduated driver licensing regimes now used by many countries, would produce better boaters. Given actual accident rates however, I don't believe it is worth the tradeoffs. IOW, it looks like a solution in search of a problem. But if society is willing to pay the price, then go for it .
Portugal is not an exception. As I have said similar graduated systems exist in Spain and Italy for many years.

My daughter took some years ago the first two licences. They can be taken together and the first one is really basic, just the rules of the road and some safety knowledge. The second one allows her to sail a Yacht if not very far away from shore. She had sailed with me since kid but even so the difference in confidence on her abilities increased notably after she had taken the licence. I believe now she feels the confidence to take a sailboat out alone in a responsible way.

Is not the licence that is important, it is the knowledge you learn on the courses that is.

I really don't understand what is the fuss around licences. For sailing responsibly one has to have knowledge, an increasing one considering different types of boats and areas of navigation. The licences are just a way to assure sailing is made in a responsible way, they assure just a minimum regarding what one should know to sail safely. With practice that knowledge will increase.

If a sailor has that minimal knowledge for taking the licences the only thing a experienced sailor would have to do would be to pass the examinations. That should not be any problem for him...and if they were a problem that just means that after all he has not that required minimum knowledge.

The examinations are not expensive, taking a course is.

I believe what should be discussed is the liberty for someone to be auto proposed for examination, taking a course or not. Licences sooner or later would be a reality everywhere, the important thing is to warrant that the ones that have already the needed knowledge don't have to be subjected to courses that they don't need, that they can prove with minimum costs that they have that needed knowledge already.
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Old 05-04-2015, 13:36   #273
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Huh? What are you saying? That we shouldn't try to answer this question about whether these mandatory licensing programs do any good? The data is there. It would take time and effort to do a proper analysis, but on the scale of difficult studies, it's pretty easy. As I said, even my cursory look at Canadian data reveals a clear declining trend which did not seem to be significantly affected by the introduction of our mandatory licensing scheme. That, in itself, is enough to be sceptical. But a proper analysis of the data might reveal something else.

My point is that we don't have to guess, go with our gut, or follow some dubious belief in personal interpretations of national founding fathers. We can ask the question, and get the answer.

An obvious parallel is the graduated drivers licensing schemes that have been introduced in many countries. The data is available, it has been studied, and the benefits are clear. Why is it so wrong to ask the same question for boat licensing schemes?
In Hawaii the best way to ensure that a government official's family and friends are well taken care of is to require a study, either environmental or otherwise. That way the ABC corporation which does studies and is part of the family business will continue to get funds even though the law or rule never passes.
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Old 05-04-2015, 13:46   #274
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/summary95/dl230.pdf

Interesting state by state list of when the driver's licenses were first required. As usual MA was first in 1903 and So. Dakota was last in 1954 (and no exam until 1959!). Now can someone explain to me how did So. Dakota managed all of these 50+ years without this requirement?

Also look at the correlation of which states rushed in to require a license and which ones held out the longest, the "nanny state" vs. "the rugged sovereign citizen individual" view. "The more things change the more they stay the same" (c)
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Old 05-04-2015, 13:52   #275
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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In Hawaii the best way to ensure that a government official's family and friends are well taken care of is to require a study, either environmental or otherwise. That way the ABC corporation which does studies and is part of the family business will continue to get funds even though the law or rule never passes.
It's a similar pattern everywhere else. It's just Hawaii perhaps being a relatively young and inexperienced state is less sophisticated in hiding it from the general public. Here in MA they "don't need no stinking study", the legislators just put all of their relatives on the state payroll from the get go. And when (very rarely) called by the media to answer do their best "Casablanca Rick's cafe" show of outrage.
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Old 05-04-2015, 14:05   #276
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Portugal is not an exception. As I have said similar graduated systems exist in Spain and Italy for many years.
...
Is not the licence that is important, it is the knowledge you learn on the courses that is.
Yes, we agree. Effective licensing which includes a high standard of education would very likely make for better boaters. We can quibble about what is the exception, and what is the rule. It appears from the list of programs that have been presented in this discussion, the ones you cite are in the minority, but that may not be the case ... I hope it's not .

But once again, at least here in North America (I make no claims for Europe or elsewhere), it doesn't appear to be a problem that needs solving. Quite frankly, it's government programs like these (whether outsourced to private enterprise or not) that give government programs a bad name. It feeds into the paranoid narrative that government just wants more money and more power.
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Old 05-04-2015, 18:07   #277
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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I license proves you have completed and taken some education. It is kind of rare for people to argue that education is a bad thing. People (meaning some boaters here in this case) should put aside their paranoid anti-gov't misplaced fear and start focusing on more important things.

But I am curious as to the reasoning behind the poll takers that believe only larger boats should be licensed (i.e. educated).
i am all for people educating themselves. it is government mandates, regulations, fees, and licensing of which i am not in favor.
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Old 05-04-2015, 18:50   #278
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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i am all for people educating themselves. it is government mandates, regulations, fees, and licensing of which i am not in favor.
Well said. Like I said it is just as easy to show someone in (law enforcement) authority your card that states you passed a boating safety course than it is to show a license.
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Old 05-04-2015, 19:40   #279
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

No, recreational licencing does nothing to improve SOLAS. Here in Australia you need a licence to be in control of a vessel with an engine. In addition any vessel with an engine has to be registered no matter how small the vessel, or the engine. The thing is administered by the States, so there is no national agreed standard and the whole business is just another layer of nanny state bureaucracy that is simply a largely unpoliced, legislated cash cow. It's a joke and has done nothing to make life easier for those of us who know what we're doing because the cowboys are still out there on the water and always will be. Best advice? Remain professional and like my old driving instructor told me decades ago, 'drive for the idiots and treat everyone else on the road with respect'. As long as we all comply with ColRegs and follow the principle that it is our duty to avoid a collision, whatever the rules say, then we have nothing to worry about.
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Old 05-04-2015, 21:38   #280
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

I'll post this again, Florida's requirements that are I think similar to those in other States also

THESE exist NOW but no license is issued just proof of passing the boater test. It IS dumbed down ( else I might not have passed it)and old gits like me don't have to anyway, I just looked at it out of interest and decided having gone through it from A-Z might as well take the test, pay my $30 and get me the card.

Florida Boating Safety Education Requirements

As of 2010, all boaters in Florida who were born on or after January 1, 1988 must have in their possession a valid Boating Safety Education ID Card when operating any motorized vessel of 10hp or more.

Exemptions to Education Requirement

You do not require a Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card if:

  • You hold a valid U.S. Coast Guard Marine Operator's License
  • You are operating on a private lake or pond
  • You are a non-resident of Florida and have completed a NASBLA-Approved course in your state
  • You are operating a vessel that has been purchased within 90 days or less (the bill of sale must be made available for inspection upon request)
Age Restrictions


  • No one under 14 may operate any personal watercraft (PWC) on Florida State Waters.
  • Children under the age of 6 must wear a properly fitted Personal Flotation Device (life jacket) when onboard any vessel.


My personal view is that most of us here would take pride in being competent and safety conscious regardless of any written laws and that more and better education on a voluntary basis should be actively encouraged. I'm not convinced that the boater safety education test above has made Florida waters any safer but it is a start and is not too onerous to those of us who have been doing it for years anyway.

I would like to see more enforcement of current laws particularly regarding BUI which seems to be a Florida obligatory ritual especially around the major holidays like 4th July, St Pats Day and so on. It worries me to see lots of folk piling onto big engined boats or pontoon boats loaded down with very large coolers of booze ready to go party party party. Some of these are rental boats too but many are owners with their invited friends going out to watch the fireworks or whatever. Not a time I would want to be out and about for sure, I'll watch the news media next day to see who wrecked what and where whilst keeping me and mine safely ashore. A TV campaign to highlight the dangers and stupidity of BUI would help and the general public should look on offenders as being shameful sinners not good 'ol party heroes to be copied too.

Enough enough indeed, I'm off to bed.
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Old 05-04-2015, 22:34   #281
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

No
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Old 05-04-2015, 23:06   #282
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

Washington state has a one time course/test requirement for a permanent licence. It does not cover non motorized vessels below a certain size. (14 ft?) It can be completed with an online course that only touches on the basics. Having little prior expirience in water with much traffic it did help me to recognize areas I needed to learn before driving in crowded waters of and around the puget sound. For others I have seen it taken as test and forget. And it still does nothing about the paddle boards. I find the kyakers mostly reasonable but oh the paddleboards. Crossing the ship canal diagonal without regard to traffic or visibillity. I have seen them pull out in front of police boats and then oblivious as the officers try to stop and educate them.

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Old 06-04-2015, 06:16   #283
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Originally Posted by Island Time O25 View Post
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/summary95/dl230.pdf

Interesting state by state list of when the driver's licenses were first required. As usual MA was first in 1903 and So. Dakota was last in 1954 (and no exam until 1959!). Now can someone explain to me how did So. Dakota managed all of these 50+ years without this requirement?

Also look at the correlation of which states rushed in to require a license and which ones held out the longest, the "nanny state" vs. "the rugged sovereign citizen individual" view. "The more things change the more they stay the same" (c)
That is interesting. I bet you can find a generic correlation between relative car traffic on each state and the year licences went mandatory.
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Old 06-04-2015, 08:00   #284
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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That is interesting. I bet you can find a generic correlation between relative car traffic on each state and the year licences went mandatory.
Traffic in MA in 1903? Before even Model T came around?

I would say a more plausible guess would be a correlation between a "nanny state" mentality (regardless of party affiliation or designation) and "free sovereign individual" one. But again may be the birds of a feather flock together so you get those who believe in a nanny state taking care of them tend to gravitate toward like environment and vice versa.

I do agree that the more "dummies" are engaged in a particular activity the more clamor we hear to regulate it.

On a historical note - controlling and chanelling automobile use at some point became a conscious decision on the part of the auto industry itself and by extension the gov't it actively supported by its often very unasavory lobbying efforts. By the mid 1930s great sums were expended by automakers and oil companies both openly and under the table to lobby the cities and large metro areas with extensive public transport to abandon their public transport systems in favor of the automobile, and by late 40s-early 50s taking any realistic alternative to owning one down. And even greater sums were expended by the gov't on all levels to take down a perfectly working public transport infrastructure and to built from scratch a system of state highways and later interstates. Prior to 1950s one could criss-cross MA in any direction in less than a day using just public transportation and/or rail, from Springfield to Cape Ann and from Berkshires to P-town at the end of Cape Cod. Good luck trying that today without an automobile or hundreds of dollars for taxi rides.

What is the point of my historical note? It is that we, the boaters, if we passively sit and allow the gov't to control the agenda, may find ouselves where equesterian users found themselves after the invention of the automobile - their areas of use severely limited or even eliminated, the rules of the road changed so they can't now realistically use them on 99.99% of the roads, and all kinds of other rules and restrictions implemented to effectively prevent horse ownership and use except for the few very rich.
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Old 06-04-2015, 08:43   #285
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Traffic in MA in 1903? Before even Model T came around?

I would say a more plausible guess would be a correlation between a "nanny state" mentality (regardless of party affiliation or designation) and "free sovereign individual" one....
After having posted I had a look at the document and I think you can find that relation between the perceptual number of cars and the need of regulation. Remember that we are talking about many decades ago and the states with perceptually more cars as well as the demography the can be a bit different today and there are always exceptions to the general rule:

States that demanded a car licence before 1925: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

States that only demanded a car licence after 1930: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/summary95/dl230.pdf
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