California is a boater’s dream, with its sparkling ocean views and calm, clear lakes – not to mention its year-round sunny weather. Whether you’re passionate about jet-skiing or just enjoying the view, there’s something for everyone here. And once January 1, 2018 rolls around, the mandatory boating safety education law will be phased in by age. To operate any motorized vessels on California waterways, Lifetime California Boater Cards will be needed for everyone by 2025. Read on to find out our fave five boating spots in the golden state and get yours before you go.
Not for everyone yet. From 2018 to 2025, the state is phasing in mandatory boater education based on operator age, requiring boaters to have a boating license in order to legally operate a motorized vessel on California waterways (including powered sailboats and paddlecraft). Beginning January 1, 2018, the mandatory education law for boaters in California applies to persons aged 20 and under. Here is the full list of dates by which boating licenses will be required:
Everyone 20 years old and under – Jan 1, 2018
Everyone 25 years old and under – Jan 1, 2019
Everyone 35 years old and under – Jan 1, 2020
Everyone 40 years old and under – Jan 1, 2021
Everyone 45 years old and under – Jan 1, 2022
Everyone 50 years old and under – Jan 1, 2023
Everyone 60 years old and under – Jan 1, 2024
Everyone regardless of age – Jan 1, 2025
There are additional benefits to being a BOATsmart! cardholder – once you’ve obtained the card, it will be good for life, it will keep you legal when boating in other states, and you’ll even save money on your boat insurance. Get your California Boater Card now and be prepared for the change!
Speed limits range in California’s waters. However, in all cases, the speed limit is 5 mph anytime the boat is within 100 feet of a bather or within 200 feet of a bathing beach, swimming float, diving platform or life line, passenger landing being used, or landing where boats are tied up. Always obey posted speed limit signs. It’s the law!
The BOATsmart! Boater Safety Course includes all of the knowledge required to pass the Official Boating Safety Test and obtain your California Boater Education Card. When completing the online boating course you’ll learn everything you need to:
Understand boating safety basics and terminology
Understand the Rules and Regulations that govern America’s waterways
Equip your boat with the right equipment
Properly maintain your boat and its equipment
Share the waterways and operate your boat in a safe and responsible manner
Have confidence when navigating amongst other boat traffic during the day or night
Be able to recognize different marker buoys and navigate using them
California does not require the installation of a ‘kill switch’ on a PWC. However, if you own any boat or PWC that is equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard, the state of California does require you to use the lanyard by attaching the safety device to yourself, to your clothing, or life jacket, as appropriate for the type of boat you’re operating.