Skip to main content

Boater-Safety Education Works!

Make time to inspect your safety gear. Make time to learn simple things that could save lives. 

Boater-Safety Education Works!
Wearing a PFD when running a boat always makes good sense.

Florida’s commitment to boating safety education seems to be working.

“An encouraging trend is the decrease in Florida boating accidents, fatalities and injuries since 2020,” said Brian Rehwinkel, Boating Safety Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “We saw 836 accidents in 2020 and that dropped to 735 by 2022. That’s encouraging and might be the result of more accessible boating safety information.”

The closest thing Florida has to a boat operator’s license is the longstanding requirement that anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, who will be operating a powerboat in Florida waters with an engine of 10 horsepower or more must complete an FWC-approved boating safety course and obtain a Florida Boating Education ID card. That excludes persons over the age of 36 at this time, but Rehwinkel says many people are choosing to take boating safety courses regardless of requirements.

boat cutoff switch
An emergency engine cut-off switch is federal law for boats under 26 feet.

“We are seeing a promising sign of responsibility if you consider that about 35 percent of the over 70,000 persons who have taken our free boating courses do so voluntarily,” said Rehwinkel.

One article in one magazine is hardly enough space to cover all the important subject matter, but with May being a busy month on the fishing grounds, Florida Sportsman is happy to share some pointers (special thanks to Rehwinkel and FWC).

But don’t stop here, visit www.myfwc.com/boating/safety-education/courses

Safety Equipment Basics

The size of your vessel determines which safety equipment you need aboard. For example, a 36-foot offshore boat will call for more than a 16-foot flats skiff. The FWC website has a breakdown of required safety equipment and it pays to consider doubling up on a few items, such as signal flares, a second throw cushion and even life vests, in the event that one has a faulty buckle, etc.

Visit www.myfwc.com/boating/safety-education/equipment for required safety equipment for various lengths of vessels. One thing about vessel size: Heed the capacity plate mounted inside your vessel. It’s simply the maximum weight capacity and/or the maximum number of persons that a boat can carry safely in good weather. The maximum weight means combined weight of passengers, gear, and the engine. Federal law requires single-hull boats less than 20 feet in length to have a capacity plate. A boat overloaded can more easily capsize or swamp, even in moderate seas.

emergency beacon
An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is a great addition, such as the GlobalFix V5, to boating gear.

Life Jacket (PFD) Requirements

Will you be boating nearshore or offshore? Will you be aboard only, or swimming, skiing, tubing or wakeboarding? There are new user-friendly life jacket labels that make it easy to match the product to your swimming skills and boating activity. The long-standing “Type” rating system is being phased out. The Type 1 through 5 designations will now be Level 100, 150 and 275, the higher the number the more suitable it is for rough water, an unconscious person in the water, or longer periods before rescue. Be aware that inflatable PFDs are prohibited for PWCs. Also, you may not ski or use an aqua-planing device without a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD. For details on PFD designations, see www.myfwc.com/boating/safety-education/wear-it-for-life

What About Rentals?

Boat and PWC rental concessions are located on many of Florida’s busy waterways, and efforts have been made to make safety a priority.

According to Brian Rehwinkel of FWC, “As of January 1, 2023, Florida Senate Bill 606, the Boating Safety Act of 2022, requires powerboat rental companies to carry insurance policies for themselves and the boat renters.”

Additionally, the rental company must provide pre-rental safety and operational instruction to the renter. The official Livery Pre-Rental and Pre-Ride Instruction Checklist and Attestation form identifies operator responsibilities, navigation rules, special waterway hazards, the vessel’s location and proper use of all safety equipment and more. The list must be checked off by both the livery instructor and the renter.

Recommended





GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

How to Buy and Rig a River Fishing Kayak

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Power or Paddle? Bonafide PWR129

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

It's a Skiff, It's a Kayak: Bonafide SKF117

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Hobie Mirage Lynx to the Next Level

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Hobie Mirage iTrek 9 Ultralight Packed with Features

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Extend Your Range in the Salt Marsh

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Florida's Capital Fishing

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 FULLY RIGGED Fishing Machine

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Mounting Forward-Facing Sonar on A Kayak: Mounts, Scanning Applications and More!

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

On The Water with Old Town: Bass Fishing at PRIVATE GEORGIA LAKE

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

DECKED-OUT Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL+ 132 Complete WALK-THROUGH

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Dreambuild: Old Town ePDL Gets Rigged to the Hilt

Florida Sportsman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now