If you drive a car, you have to have a driver’s license. When you got yours, you had to pass an exam and a driving test. Except in a few states, you can climb aboard your new forty-footer, fire up the twin 400hp diesels, and you’re on your way – no license required and no test to even find out whether you know anything about anything. Knowledge is the key to safe boating and getting this knowledge is your responsibility.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons offer boating safety courses in most areas. These are essentially free except for the cost of the course materials. Many insurance companies will offer discounts on boat insurance to individuals who successfully complete a USCGA or Power Squadron course.
There are also on-line courses for self-study and a myriad of books and CDs that have the information that you’ll need.