By Ralph Little, Flotilla 14-8

At a recent Vessel Examination event at Mandarin Park ramp, the occasion of speaking with new boat owners raised a question. They were under the impression they must take a Boat Safety class within three months of buying a boat. As much as I’d like to say that is true, it is not quite so.

What is true is that anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 (currently 28 years old) who operates a vessel powered by 10 horsepower or more must pass an approved boater safety course and have in their possession photographic identification and a boating safety education identification card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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A notable exemption to that rule might cause confusion.

  • A person who is operating a vessel within 90 days after its purchase, provided they have available for inspection aboard that vessel, a bill of sale meeting all the requirements as established in Chapter 328.46(1), Florida Statutes.

The translation is that an operator (owner) of any age is exempt from passing a course and having the ID for 90 days after purchase of a vessel. Subsequently, operators with a birthday prior to 1988 still aren’t required to meet those conditions. If they are 28 or less, they must have a course and ID.

I won’t interpret the other requirements. You can read them at the FWC website or Florida Statute 327.395. Other exemptions that may help are:

  • An operator accompanied by a person either exempt from the educational requirements (older than 28) or at least 18 years old with the required Boating ID Card and attendant to and responsible for the safe operation of the vessel.
  • A non-resident who has in their possession proof that they have completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-approved boater safety course or equivalency examination from another state.

Boating Safety factoid: Other than the pull of the moon, winds affect tides. Strong offshore winds move water away from a coast, creating a lower high or low tide. Powerful onshore winds can have the opposite effect. High pressure systems measurably depress sea levels and affect tide heights. Low pressure systems (think hurricane or tropical storm) allow tide levels to rise above predicted levels.

Visit our website, to access more boating information. And, yes, we recommend all boat operators take the safety class.

Ralph Little is a member of Flotilla 14-8.

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