FAQ California

Every parents’ first concern is the safety of their child. Parents must safeguard against so many things, from food, to household items, to equipment. As they grow older, the worry remains, while the products and situations become more difficult to navigate.  Situations such as taking the proper precautions and courses before boating for the first time which could mean the difference between life and death. Samantha Casey and Brennon Johnson are two examples of how a boating course could have potentially changed their lives. As of January 1, 2018, the mandatory boating safety education law is in effect and will be phased in over eight years. If you operate any type of motorized vessel on California waterways (including powered sailboats/paddle craft), you will be required to pass an approved boating safety exam and carry a lifetime California Boater Card.

Samantha Casey was only 13 years old when a fatal PWC crash changed her life forever. The crash almost took her life and was caused by a lack of boating safety instructions. Because Samantha was only 13-years old, she did not yet have her driver’s license and therefore was not aware of things such as blind spots. As she rode around the lake with her sister’s boyfriend, she made a sharp right turn without looking behind her. Had Samantha taken a boating course, “[she] would have seen the nose of [the] other jet ski and could have potentially prevented the collision.” Samantha Casey. The collision was such a high and forceful impact that the other jet ski went right through her leg, breaking her tibia and fibula, destroying most of her tendons and movement in her toes and ankle as well as breaking through the fibreglass on the jet ski she was on. Samantha regained her strength to walk again but will carry scars from that day in her mind for the rest of her life.

Brennon Johnson was 14-years-old when his kayak capsized one afternoon in August. Brennon drowned in his lifejacket, upside down in his seat. There is no telling why Brennon’s kayak rolled or why he was unable to get back up, but certainly an online course would have taught Brennon how to use a paddle for a brace to better keep his kayak upright. His parents “… made him take [a] hunting class. But for his kayak, [they] never made him take a class.” This activity, along with canoeing, is often overlooked when it comes to safety courses, perhaps because it’s seen as a relaxing, recreational activity. However, there are many steps and safety tips to remember before embarking on a canoe or kayak trip. After all, “The power of water is immense, and it can either cause tragedy or it can be really big fun and the difference is learning what to do and how to handle it.” Nora Whitmore, a Whitewater kayaker and instructor.

California has one of the highest recorded number of boating accidents, fatal accidents and deaths than any other state in the US. In 2017, the US Coast Guard released boating accident statistics which stated that “…81% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 14% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.” This statistic supports the fact that by taking a boating safety course, you can decrease the chances of boating accidents that might potentially cause a near-fatal accident or death. As a parent, your child’s safety is always the top priority. Before they get on the water, it’s up to you to make sure they are equipped with the right knowledge and tools. for as little as $20, your child can complete an online boating safety course approved by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). Some providers such as this one even include a free paddling safety course.

Boatsmart California new law changes boater card

Do I need a license to drive a boat in California?

If you operate any motorized vessel on California waterways (including powered sailboats, paddle-craft, and even undocumented vessels), you need to know about these changes. Starting on January 1st, the state is phasing in mandatory boater education based on operator age. Almost all boaters in California will be required to carry a boating license. In 2018, the mandatory education law will only apply to boaters in California aged 20 and under, but soon it will apply to everyone. Continue reading…

boatsmart california header

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.

Continue reading…

Prepare for the official California Boating Safety Test with the BOATsmart Course which includes animated, narrated and brilliantly illustrated lessons, perfect for all ages.

The 3-hour California Boating Safety Course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and by the California Department of Boating and Waterways and includes all the knowledge you need in order to obtain your California Boater Education Certificate.

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December 17, 2015

#Categories: FAQ California

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!

Learn more about speed limits and restrictions by taking the BOATsmart! California Boating Safety Course!

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December 17, 2015

#Categories: FAQ California

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
  • Know how to respond in emergency situations

Posted By
December 17, 2015

#Categories: FAQ California