Just received a notice from the state saying that WA will now require a boater education card similar to a driver's license.
Last I checked the count is 41 states now require this. For me I have an exemption until 2016 under the old guy exemption. For PWC's the exemption for everyone is next year. Each state takes a different approach. The reason so many states have done this its to target the leading causes of death on the water
. Drunk and stupid count the highest on the list of causes of death. Issues like capacity plates and gasoline safety
add up to the bulk of the issues. Just plain stupid rounds out the field. Sail boats are so low on the category of boats with deaths that it's almost a joke but the law applies equally unless you are old and stupid.
I would defy most anyone here to take the online course and fail. This isn't about maximum proficiency this is about minimal competency targeted at the areas that lead to death on the water
- period. Ironically the issue of capacity plates does not fall on the boat for all of us but it does apply to the dinghy
. Overloaded both in capacity and alcohol is what the main idea is.
You really need to know small boats and gasoline safety
to pass the test. Not that it's hard but you won't be asked any navigation
puzzles or highly technical questions like a USCG exam. Not much you'll be asked qualifies you to be a cruiser. It's all true stuff but really is not a minimal criteria to take off long distance or for more than a few hours.
The stats are pretty convincing that a targeted approach like this makes death on the water a goal worth eliminating (in state waters). It also costs the states nothing since contractors do all the testing.
This is a requirement that we all need to meet sooner or later but it won't qualify you for much. It just meets the requirements of the law. I still feel a formal boating
education is worth the investment but I wouldn't consider this to be enough. The all day USCG or Power Squadron courses would be a better choice since it still meets the 6 hour requirement and you will learn something you didn't know. You need the idea of learning
things you didn't know.