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Thread: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

  1. #1
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    Default California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Just a head's up to the forumites from California. It's one of those things that's been on the horizon since 2014 and to which people really haven't paid much attention, but California will begin the phase in of its "watercraft operator's license" requirement starting with all persons 20 years or younger starting the first of next year, which is only eight months from now. The "phase-in" will start at age 20 and below and add five years to the age requirement each year, 25 year olds and younger must have the "license" as of 1-1-19, 30 year olds and younger starting 1-1-20 and so on up to age 60, when on 1-1-26, everybody's got to have one to operate a motorized watercraft. (There are some exceptions for commercial fishermen, people who have USCG commercial operators' licenses, boat liveries, and such.) There's no penalty for getting the card before you reach the age you absolutely must have it to operate anything that's got a motor on California waters. Once you get the card, it's good for life with no retesting or renewals required. FAQs: http://dbw.ca.gov/pages/28702/files/...s%201.5.17.pdf

    The officially-named "Boater Education Card" is much like the "Hunter Safety Card" that you have to get before you can obtain a California hunting license. It's not a "photo ID" like a California drivers' license, but you are going to need one in order to operate any sort of motor powered watercraft in California once the phase-in reaches your age and, apparently, wear it visible on your person like a California hunting or fishing license, so game wardens, park rangers, Coast Guard or whoever can verify from a distance that you have the "license."

    The license is obtained by taking a California approved vessel operators' safety course and passing a written examination, much like the DMV's drivers' license written exam. At present, unlike the drivers' test, there is only a requirement to pass the written exam. A number of for-profit outfits have already jumped into the market providing approved boater safety classes for a price. However, a workbook can be obtained free from the State and mail-in written tests can be taken "open book" at home. The free workbook and tests can be obtained here: http://www.dbw.ca.gov/?page_id=28734 Note that the "boating license" program will be administered by the Department of Boating and Waterways, not the DMV, although information on the program can be obtained through the DMV as well.

    Most responsible boaters have taken a water safety class at some point in their boating careers. At present, the tests, like the DMV drivers' license written tests, aren't at all any more academically challenging for experienced boaters than the drivers' written tests are for experienced drivers. As with most bureaucratic things, it can be expected that over time the requirements may become more complex and perhaps fees be imposed, so it would seem getting the "boating license' sooner rather than later is probably a prudent thing.

    This sort of thing really grates on my libertarian attitude towards authority, but it's been a long time coming and it's here now. Nothing to do about it but comply. Many thanks to the many drunken jackasses who go screaming around the lakes and reservoirs in go-fast boats and jet skis every summer killing themselves and others. It always seems that there's somebody who ruins any good thing for everybody!
    Last edited by Bob Cleek; 04-10-2017 at 04:44 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    We have had that in Canada for about 12 years now. They phased it in on the jet skis and tin skiffs first. Still no requirements for oars or sails, but add a 2 HP kicker, and you need your PCOC. I am glad we don't have to carry it visibly; that sounds like a good way to drop it overside.

    It sounds like California's requirements are essentially the same, including the "for profits" jumping on the bandwagon. A Power Squadron course should include this as matter of course. I paid my $30 to the "for profit" organization, took the book, came back an hour later and aced the exam. They were kind of surprised, I am not sure why. It is mostly rules of the road, running lights, and weather definitions, as I remember. Also, required equipment.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    I got a card from the Power Squadron in 1990 for taking their Basic Boating Course.
    Done.
    The PCOC is REALLY slack.
    Most people on this forum could do it in their sleep.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    In NY, if you have ever taken a boating safety course, you are exempt, providing you can produce the document from the Power Squadron or CG Auxiliary.


    Kevin

    Edited: We have an online course, that I think is pretty good. Its certainly no walk in the park. My 12-year old just got her license by taking it.

    https://www.boat-ed.com/newyork/?utm..._Certification



    K
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Washington State has it but exempts some of us old farts. Nothing like being out there with a buch of us geezers who can't remember which end is the front.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Thanks for the heads up.

    I suppose I need one now we got a motor boat. Well, I'll probably never be allowed to drive it, so probably just my wife needs one.

    Peace,
    Robert

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Damn sailboat wakes

  8. #8
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    Default

    We have had the requirement for a few years, but with a fixed grandfathered birthdate of 1993. I actually like the idea that everyone should get one.

    I doubt it will help much in the end. I see idiotic behavior on boats all the time.

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    What it does is gives the gummint something they can take away if you screw up. With no license, there isn't a mechanism to stop you from going out and doing the same damn stupid thing again. I've had the CT version for over a decade. Aced the test in my sleep. (Yeah, had to take it because I couldn't find my 40 year old USPS cert.)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    What if someone from out of state comes to visit? Say a family of world cruisers from Great Britain or Germany? Will they be required to have the card before they enter Californian waters?
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    I expect we will eventually see this in all states. Is it a PITA? Yup. Is it a result of idjuts doing stoopid stuff? Most likely. As Phiil says, it does give the authorities something to take away if you screw up. It's also (they hope) a revenue generator for the state.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    In Ohio, it's a 'boater education card' rather than a license. Phased in, as others do.

    In all honesty, I would be in favor of an actual skills test, on the water. Just like a driver's license.

    Interesting point on reciprocity -- thought about that when considering renting a boat in San Diego last weekend. (Ended up letting others pilot...)

    Chip

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Gee Bob,

    With all the torrential rains, there's an awfully large number of stumps and logs washed into all of our lakes from the downpours and fires last year. Since the state is lacking funding for ANYTHING (except creating new fees and taxes), I think all that flotsam will take care of the jackasses in due course.....

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    What if someone from out of state comes to visit? Say a family of world cruisers from Great Britain or Germany? Will they be required to have the card before they enter Californian waters?
    Nope. Visiting cruisers are covered by one of the exemptions.

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Chester View Post
    In Ohio, it's a 'boater education card' rather than a license. Phased in, as others do.

    In all honesty, I would be in favor of an actual skills test, on the water. Just like a driver's license.

    Interesting point on reciprocity -- thought about that when considering renting a boat in San Diego last weekend. (Ended up letting others pilot...)

    Chip
    In CA it's also technically called the same thing, a "boater education card," although the state websites are also referring to it as a "boating license." According to the State, it's not called a "boating license" because it is good for life and does not require renewal or retesting.

    People who rent boats aren't required to have the card, although I'd expect the rental outfit is going to want to make sure you know what you are doing before turning you loose with one of their vessels.

    The card requirement only applies to boats powered with some sort of engine. Engineless boat operators are exempt.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianM View Post
    Gee Bob,

    With all the torrential rains, there's an awfully large number of stumps and logs washed into all of our lakes from the downpours and fires last year. Since the state is lacking funding for ANYTHING (except creating new fees and taxes), I think all that flotsam will take care of the jackasses in due course.....
    One can only hope! Death to jet skis!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    The exception for boat rentals proves it isn't about safety. Many states have the rental exception. Having to wear the license like a branding is sad. Took the NYS make sure make shore class in 1980 darn it I don't have my card anymore. And I was going to jetski the Oroville spillway but if I have to take a class first, forget it, too much hassle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    In CA it's also technically called the same thing, a "boater education card," although the state websites are also referring to it as a "boating license." According to the State, it's not called a "boating license" because it is good for life and does not require renewal or retesting.

    People who rent boats aren't required to have the card, although I'd expect the rental outfit is going to want to make sure you know what you are doing before turning you loose with one of their vessels.

    The card requirement only applies to boats powered with some sort of engine. Engineless boat operators are exempt.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    We've had the same thing here in Oz for 30 years or so. Extraordinary to think there are still stupid people in boats. Maybe even more than there were back then.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    The requirement has been in place here for years. I actually thought the only states that didn't already require them were (oddly) Rhode Island and Alaska. Rhode Island I guess is willing to acknowledge, and bow to its heavy dependace on the recreational boating industry in its economy, and Alaska is probably happy to still live under Darwin's rule.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Probably the quickest "do you know your way around boats" test is to hand the applicant a 1/2" mooring line and point to a cleat.
    Tell 'em: tie that line on like you would to hold an 18' boat in good weather while you go ashore to eat lunch. Then see what they do.
    (This is intended to be an easy question to demonstrate. Let's see if we can complicate it -- together!)

    Chip

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Chester View Post
    (This is intended to be an easy question to demonstrate. Let's see if we can complicate it -- together!)

    Chip
    ok!,..... Hmmm only an 18' boat?? 1/2" is to large, 3/8" is more than enough here.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Hot off the presses.... California Boaters Can take a FREE online course to earn the boater safety certificate.

    http://www.boatus.com/pressroom/rele...1#.WO6UP44pCYV

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    I wish there was a question about anchoring on the test.

    Many times I've seen powerboaters cross only a few feet in front of Drake, as if the anchor was on a 2:1 scope.

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    I think that if anyone expects this new requirement to result in more knowledgeable and conscientious boaters, they are in for a rude awakening. Washington State has had such a boaters license for some time now. Nevertheless, the water is full of nitwits who care not a bit for the safety and comfort of others. I could make a list but you all have seen it too. And the crazies are not limited to fast powerboats. I've been nearly run over while sailing by sailboats under power.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: California Vessel Operator's License Requirement Phase-in Starts January 1, 2018

    Ha! I initially wrote 3/8", but feared backlash from real boaters saying "3/8"?! Is that all you use? Maybe try kitestring, or knitting yarn. A real sailor would rip the stitching out of his Mackintosh and braid a mooring line during a moonless nighttime monsoon, and like it!"

    So I wrote 1/2".

    Chip

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