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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 28-03-2015, 13:01   #61
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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i voted no. more governmet regulation, taxation, fees, etc is never a good solution to any problem. no matter how well intentioned it is, government involvement does more harm than good. i have often considered this problem. i think it could esily be handled without requiring new regulations. all boats under power or over a certain size have to be registered and get a number, at least in my state.

it would be a simple matter to include, as a requirement of registration, a certificate showing that the applicant has taken a simple seamanship/boating course; something that covers the basics of safety on the water. there are already courses like that which are available.

once you have had a boat registered, under that requirement, your file wold show that you had taken such a course and you would not be required to show proof when registering other boats.

no government red tape. no additional government fees or taxation. and, best of all, no extra government program or 'service' using up more of our tax dollars.
Well, of course your initial assertion is clearly untrue. There are tons of government programs which are cost-effective solutions to some of society's collective problems. You know, stuff like food safety, road construction, public education, healthcare (in almost every developed country at least ), nuclear power regulations, traffic rules, police, military, fire services... All these government programs require taxation and/or fees. So it is hyperbole to say more government regulation is never the solution. Sometimes government is the most efficient solution. Sometimes it's not.

Your solution seems a reasonable one. It piggybacks on an existing government program (registration), so should result in little additional cost. Although as I understand your country (I'm Canadian), you don't have to register a boat. State licensing is an option, is it not? so you'd then have to run parallel systems in all your 50 states. Still might be cheaper, but now it starts to get more complicated.

But again, I'm not really in favour of these kinds of programs b/c I doubt their efficacy. In fact, Canada presents a perfect case study to see if forcing everyone to take a basic boating-skills course has any effect on accident rates. Everyone in Canada who operates a power-driven boat needs to have passed an exam that tests basic boating competency. This was phased in over a number of years, and is now mandatory. So here is the perfect test case to see if this has made any difference. This is a no-brainer kind of study, so surely it's been done. Anyone know there results?
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Old 28-03-2015, 13:17   #62
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is a BRILLIANT solution, and well presented.

It's really nice to have a challenge followed by a real, workable solution.

Instead of my regular bickering!
thanks.
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Old 28-03-2015, 13:38   #63
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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But again, I'm not really in favour of these kinds of programs b/c I doubt their efficacy. In fact, Canada presents a perfect case study to see if forcing everyone to take a basic boating-skills course has any effect on accident rates. Everyone in Canada who operates a power-driven boat needs to have passed an exam that tests basic boating competency. This was phased in over a number of years, and is now mandatory. So here is the perfect test case to see if this has made any difference. This is a no-brainer kind of study, so surely it's been done. Anyone know there results?
In an attempt to answer my own question, I've been able to skim some stats. I haven't found a definitive study that answers the question directly, but it appears boating death rates have been declining since Canada instituted its mandatory competency exam. HOWEVER, looking further back, the stats I've looked at show this is part of a long-term trend which began at least two decades earlier.

Interestingly the USA, which does not have a mandatory competency exam, also shows the same downward trend in boating fatalities over the same time period. Based on this parallel data I certainly remain unconvinced that a mandatory boaters license, at least the way Canada has done it, would do much good.

BTW, looking at the stats, the vast majority of mortality is from the powerboat category. Kayaks, canoes and other human-powered craft make up a tiny percentage (as do sailboats) of the mortality stats, so all those pointing the finger at those folks might want to reconsider. I know... mortality rates are not exactly what we're talking about, but unless you can find better data, it seems to be the best proxy.

Oh, and its predominately males who make up the mortality stats ... no big surprise I suppose .
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Old 28-03-2015, 13:46   #64
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

In the US, many boating safety stats for small unregistered vessels may not be reported.

Small vessels whether human powered, sail or powered account for the majority of boating fatalities in the US I'm pretty sure.

It may even state that in the USCG preface to their stats. Things are getting better every year in stat collection. Looks like the USCG has started cross referencing the media for boating accidents that don't make the state reporting stats.
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Old 28-03-2015, 13:52   #65
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

Strange question for this forum as almost all boats on here are already required to have a license. Criterial varies but most places it starts at somewhere between 5kn and 7kn max speed for powered craft. Not sure what the limit is for non-powered craft. Applies to all craft in international waters so since this is a cruising forum it covers everyone. Also the is no such thing as a 'recreational boater' in terms of rules of the road or requirment for a lcence. A boat uses commercially has many additional requirements on to of basic need for a license.
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Old 28-03-2015, 13:53   #66
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Well, of course your initial assertion is clearly untrue. There are tons of government programs which are cost-effective solutions to some of society's collective problems. You know, stuff like food safety, road construction, public education, healthcare (in almost every developed country at least ), nuclear power regulations, traffic rules, police, military, fire services... All these government programs require taxation and/or fees. So it is hyperbole to say more government regulation is never the solution. Sometimes government is the most efficient solution. Sometimes it's not.

Your solution seems a reasonable one. It piggybacks on an existing government program (registration), so should result in little additional cost. Although as I understand your country (I'm Canadian), you don't have to register a boat. State licensing is an option, is it not? so you'd then have to run parallel systems in all your 50 states. Still might be cheaper, but now it starts to get more complicated.

But again, I'm not really in favour of these kinds of programs b/c I doubt their efficacy. In fact, Canada presents a perfect case study to see if forcing everyone to take a basic boating-skills course has any effect on accident rates. Everyone in Canada who operates a power-driven boat needs to have passed an exam that tests basic boating competency. This was phased in over a number of years, and is now mandatory. So here is the perfect test case to see if this has made any difference. This is a no-brainer kind of study, so surely it's been done. Anyone know there results?
i don't mean to be argumentative (especially since you liked my basic idea)but, take your example of food safety. the government's safety regs and enforcement is 'influenced' by powerful industrial elements. in many areas, safety regs for food are much less stringent than anyone likes to consider. how about some rat droppings and dead mouse parts in your hot dogs, sound good?

but, intentionally, lots of harmful chemical additives (hormone mimicking chemicals comes immediately to mind) are allowed in our food...it benefits the food indiustry and they have the clout to get influence.

public roads tend to cost more than private ones and take far longer to get put in. they also tend to be of less quality.

in the US, a public education is the adsolute worst education you can get. if you want your kid to be better educated, you pay for private school or do home schooling.

i could go farther but, i think you get my drift.

yes, some regulation has been good and could only be done by a government agency.but, on the whole....so, i stand by that assertion.

about registration: as i said, my state requires it. you can not operate a boat with a motor or over the size of a dinghy, in maryland, without it being registered. it's like tags on your car. you get a sticker to put on your boat, with a registration numbver. here, it's done through the DLLR, like fishing licenses. i can't speak for other states.

the US was designed to have a very weak federal government and leave most things to state and local governments. unfortunately, it hasn't stayed that way. that being said, i think something like this could be left to the states.

i had my holiday 20 registered in maryland but sailed it up in hanover, pa. i guess Pa doesn't require registration (they din't really care about my maryland registration and didn't require a Pa registration). but, you have to have a launch permit to launch from public ramps. same sort of thing. you buy your sticker and display it. you have to have one of them for any sized boat. they could do the same thing with their launch permits: require a certificate saying you passed such a class to get your permit.
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Old 28-03-2015, 14:00   #67
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
In an attempt to answer my own question, I've been able to skim some stats. I haven't found a definitive study that answers the question directly, but it appears boating death rates have been declining since Canada instituted its mandatory competency exam. HOWEVER, looking further back, the stats I've looked at show this is part of a long-term trend which began at least two decades earlier.

Interestingly the USA, which does not have a mandatory competency exam, also shows the same downward trend in boating fatalities over the same time period. Based on this parallel data I certainly remain unconvinced that a mandatory boaters license, at least the way Canada has done it, would do much good.

BTW, looking at the stats, the vast majority of mortality is from the powerboat category. Kayaks, canoes and other human-powered craft make up a tiny percentage (as do sailboats) of the mortality stats, so all those pointing the finger at those folks might want to reconsider. I know... mortality rates are not exactly what we're talking about, but unless you can find better data, it seems to be the best proxy.

Oh, and its predominately males who make up the mortality stats ... no big surprise I suppose .

maybe, the improvement you see in both countries is actually due to internet sites like this one, where people have access to information provided by other private citizens, and by companies like westmarine, which supply lots of good information that is easily accessed.

this might be a good indication that a private sector solution is better than a government solution. easily available education instead of costly regulation.

i think the numbers you quote do reflect the situation. the problem is with powrboaters that buy boats to show off and hotdog. the same issue with motorcycles, actually.

in the 20 years i have been sailing, i have never had any near misses or other safety issues with other sailors or human powered boats. over the years, though, i have been put at risk numerous times by power boaters. in fact, last year, for the first time in all my years on the water, i was almost hit (and had to take emergency evasive action) by two different largish (well, compared to my sailing dinghy; not my cal 27) powerboats driven by guys who were not paying a bit of attention to where they were going.

i think that internal combustion draws a more careless, often more reckless, type of person....especially internal combustion coupled with a sporty exterior.
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Old 28-03-2015, 14:02   #68
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

Perhaps a better question would be should skippers be licensed/trained in some way or should there be some policing to ensure the existing rules are followed in some areas (ie where people don't obey them)
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Old 28-03-2015, 14:02   #69
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
In the US, many boating safety stats for small unregistered vessels may not be reported.

Small vessels whether human powered, sail or powered account for the majority of boating fatalities in the US I'm pretty sure.

It may even state that in the USCG preface to their stats. Things are getting better every year in stat collection.
This is true. Boats under 26' account for the vast majority of mortality and morbidity. Of course, I would assume there are far more of these types of boats out there, than bigger ones, so this stat is not particularly helpful. What would be useful would be some sort of per-capita analysis, but I doubt if anyone can come up with that data.

Looking at USCG data for 2005 to 2013 the category of boat that was most often involved in reportable accidents was "Open Motorboat". This is followed by "Personal Watercraft" and then "Cabin Motorboat". Lots of interesting data at this site.
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Old 28-03-2015, 14:09   #70
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

We all benefit from the marine services that government provides: dredging, channel marking, rescue, clean water enforcement and ICW bridge operations to name a few. Paying for these thru licensing fees seems reasonable to me.
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Old 28-03-2015, 14:14   #71
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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i don't mean to be argumentative ...
Nor do I, especially not in someone else's thread. I'll just say you need to present actual evidence, not just assertions, if you're going to make these kinds of sweeping statements.

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maybe, the improvement you see in both countries is actually due to internet sites like this one, where people have access to information provided by other private citizens, and by companies like westmarine, which supply lots of good information that is easily accessed.

this might be a good indication that a private sector solution is better than a government sloution. easily available education instead of costly regulation.
Could be ... although I'd need to see more than correlation to go with this one. Actually, it should be testable since we could look at boaters who use the Internet vs those who don't.

My bet is the mortality and morbidity rates are dropping b/c our population is getting older. Young men are the ones involved in most of these accidents, so just like with crime, we're seeing a demographic impact as young men turn into old men.

... but I don't have evidence for this assertion either, so maybe it is due to the impact of CF
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Old 28-03-2015, 14:20   #72
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

Okay, I'm convinced more government would not be better in this case. But I do think something like the UK system would be beneficial if we USA citizens would be civilized enough to adopt it here.


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Possibly in many places, but the UK is a rare example of how a culture of learning without legislation exists and works. A network of small yachtclubs operating more as low budget self help groups polling together resources and knowledge helping the process along with the excellent RYA courses. Still idiots around, but in general not knowing and not trying to learn is frowned upon. If you have a stick and some rags anyway
In other countries though..... dunno

Could we petition the Queen to take us back?



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Old 28-03-2015, 14:21   #73
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

I am in favour of anyone using a vessel obliged to have a qualification. In our neck of the woods anyone without knowledge of sailing can buy a vessel of any size and obtain a mooring, put to sea and put many lives in danger. I once found a boat of some vintage about 25feet LOA broken down about seven miles from land on a cold February day. There was the "skipper" and five children aboard, all terrified and without a singe lifejacket. They were not adequately dressed for the conditions and several children were seasick.

On another occasion I rescued a small vessel which had run out of fuel and was drifting towards rocks. The "skipper" said that he didn't realise the engine needed so much petrol, he thought it would do about 25 miles to the gallon like his car.
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Old 28-03-2015, 14:23   #74
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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We all benefit from the marine services that government provides: dredging, channel marking, rescue, clean water enforcement and ICW bridge operations to name a few. Paying for these thru licensing fees seems reasonable to me.
thank you. you just proved a point made a in a number of posts, including mine.

the discussion started out with a suggestion of licensing as a way to ensure proper education for safety and it has only taken a few pages for it to turn into licensing as a 'justifiable' additional tax to pay for services that we already pay for with our taxes.

it's much like saying that adding tolls to roads, that we already pay for with our taxes, is a good thing because we all use those roads.
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Old 28-03-2015, 14:27   #75
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Re: Do you think recreational boats should be licensed?

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in the 20 years i have been sailing, i have never had any near misses or other safety issues with other sailors or human powered boats. over the years, though, i have been put at risk numerous times by power boaters. ...i think that internal combustion draws a more careless, often more reckless, type of person....especially internal combustion coupled with a sporty exterior.
As a supporting anecdote, I was speaking with our local SAR folks at the Canadian Coast Guard station. We got talking about SAR events here on Lake Superior. After years of being on the job he said that virtually ALL events they deal with had to do with powerboats. Almost never is it a sailboat that gets into trouble.

I speculated that this was due to powerboats having to rely on engines. As a sailor my primary engine is less prone to breakdown. But no, this long-time SAR specialist said more or less what you are saying; power boaters tend to be less skilled and more reckless. Often the "emergency" was them simply running out of fuel .

... now I'm in trouble with our powerboats here. The SAR guys said it, not me .
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