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Old 14-06-2024, 07:23   #1
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Boaters courses needed for transients?

Just read that Maine joined 44 other states requiring boaters course. So pretty much all states.

I did the ICW from Maine to Florida 10 years ago….no problems. Considering doing it again…

But now. Does one have to stop at each state border and complete the course before transversing that state? If not, what is the workaround?
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Old 14-06-2024, 07:27   #2
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

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But now. Does one have to stop at each state border and complete the course before transversing that state? If not, what is the workaround?
I'm pretty sure every state provides reciprocal privileges for boaters from other states with a boater's ed card, just like they do for drivers' licenses.
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Old 14-06-2024, 07:36   #3
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

Nobody wants to discourage tourism so most of these laws only apply to residents, that guy from another state on the rental PWC that hits your boat doesn't have one.
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Old 14-06-2024, 08:13   #4
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

As I understand it, at least in MD, there is a date associated with the law. DNR only looks at people using watercraft tha *may* fall under that date requiring a card. Tho, have been down the Bay for 12 years, never even heard of any rumors of anyone being pinched.
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Old 14-06-2024, 09:24   #5
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

I wondered about the impact to cruising after NY passed a law requiring such certification for anyone born after 1977 in 2024, and all motorboat operators in 2025: https://parks.ny.gov/boating/education.aspx

Their website says that reciprocal cards are accepted and is not required for rental jetskis (the suicide machine of the water). I guess most conflicts will be handled through enforcement; the water cops just won’t ask for this from someone turning up on the Hudson on a 40 foot cruising boat. The problem comes if you have another reason to interact with law enforcement (your boat is hit by one of the rental jetskis, there’s a theft, someone complains about your loud music at the anchorage, etc.). Now they have to ask and here’s you illegally boating in the sovereign state of NY!
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Old 14-06-2024, 09:32   #6
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I'm pretty sure every state provides reciprocal privileges for boaters from other states with a boater's ed card, just like they do for drivers' licenses.
Not all states do this, and not all states offer a card (i.e. those that don't require one), and some have time limits. Some states exempt USCG licensed masters, some only exempt USCG licensed masters if on a commercial voyage.

I think it's a mess. Right now enforcement is spotty but with time that will probably change.
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Old 14-06-2024, 09:54   #7
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

A couple of things to consider here:

First, if you take a NASBLA-approved course, it is typically recognized across state lines. But, again, no one is carding boaters as they cross state lines and there is no enforcement action prescribed even if they did.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, nobody cares. No state has any interest in enforcing this for out-of-state boaters. I believe some states do random checks at boat launches, but other than that, this is enforced primarily by the state's DOL when a boat is registered. Some states only require a course as a prerequisite to registration, not operation. A vessel operated out-of-state would not be subject to such a requirement.
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Old 14-06-2024, 10:00   #8
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

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Originally Posted by massnspace View Post
Just read that Maine joined 44 other states requiring boaters course. So pretty much all states.

I did the ICW from Maine to Florida 10 years ago….no problems. Considering doing it again…

But now. Does one have to stop at each state border and complete the course before transversing that state? If not, what is the workaround?
States offer reciprocity, like a drivers license or motor vehicle registration.

Typically your certificate either needs to be issued by a State, or by a NASBLA approved course and certificate.
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Old 14-06-2024, 10:04   #9
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

NASBLA has links to each state's requirements: https://www.nasbla.org/education/taking-a-boat-course
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Old 14-06-2024, 10:21   #10
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

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Originally Posted by Foswick View Post
A couple of things to consider here:

First, if you take a NASBLA-approved course, it is typically recognized across state lines. But, again, no one is carding boaters as they cross state lines and there is no enforcement action prescribed even if they did.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, nobody cares. No state has any interest in enforcing this for out-of-state boaters. I believe some states do random checks at boat launches, but other than that, this is enforced primarily by the state's DOL when a boat is registered. Some states only require a course as a prerequisite to registration, not operation. A vessel operated out-of-state would not be subject to such a requirement.
This is really the crux of it. State and Municipal agencies don't typically do random boardings. You have to either be acting drunk, vessel is disabled, or you are involved in a collision, allision or grounding before those folks get involved.

USCG doesn't care about state requirements. The boaters certificate is not a federal requirement and is, therefore, not enforced by USCG.
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Old 14-06-2024, 10:25   #11
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

FYI: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/programs-r...ng-safety.html
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Old 14-06-2024, 10:44   #12
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

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Originally Posted by Foswick View Post
NASBLA has links to each state's requirements: https://www.nasbla.org/education/taking-a-boat-course

Some of those are wrong or, at best, incomplete. I did some spot checking the last time the topic came up.
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Old 14-06-2024, 11:03   #13
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

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This is really the crux of it. State and Municipal agencies don't typically do random boardings. You have to either be acting drunk, vessel is disabled, or you are involved in a collision, allision or grounding before those folks get involved.

Not necessarily.


In Minnesota and Wisconsin, it is unlawful to ride on the gunwales, and both states have interpreted this to include riding on the tubes (sponsons) of an inflatable dinghy, even though the practice of riding on the tubes is widespread and not considered unsafe.


They will stop you and ticket you in both states if they see you in a dinghy if anyone is on the tubes. I know people who have been ticketed. Once they stop you, they'll count lifejackets. They'll ask to see registration. They'll ask to see a signed invasive species awareness statement. In Wisconsin, if you're under 35 years old, they'll ask for a boater ID card. In Minnesota, if you're under 18, they'll ask for a boater ID card. And they'll ticket you for anything you're missing.


In other states, they will stop you if you don't have the engine kill switch lanyard attached to your clothing or wrist, and that becomes the thin end of the wedge.
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Old 14-06-2024, 11:05   #14
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

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Originally Posted by Foswick View Post
A couple of things to consider here:

First, if you take a NASBLA-approved course, it is typically recognized across state lines.

Not by all states. A couple require you to take a test in person at a state-run testing site.
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Old 14-06-2024, 11:14   #15
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Re: Boaters courses needed for transients?

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Some of those are wrong or, at best, incomplete. I did some spot checking the last time the topic came up.
Which ones?
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