Safe Boating Classes

Launching a boat and taking off into open water is fun and an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. But, you must know basic boating and water safety rules. Follow them for your safety and the safety of others. Learn the rules. Take a boater education class (schedule) from Texas Parks and Wildlife. Courses start at $20 and are a minimum of six hours. They can be taken in a classroom, online or at home. You'll receive a certificate when you pass the course. And, you may even qualify for lower boater insurance rates. Best of all — you'll know how to play it safe on the water.

Who should take a course?

Anyone operating a boat in Texas should take a boater education class. Plus, you may be legally required to:

  • Anyone age 13 to 17 must complete a boater education course and pass the test before they can operate the boat by themselves.
  • Boater certification from TPWD is required for those age 13 to 17 to operate the following vessels by themselves.
    • Any vessel over 10 horsepower.
    • Any wind-blown vessel over 14 feet.
    • All personal watercraft.
  • Some violations of the Texas Water Safety Act require completion of a course.

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Drugs and alcohol

It's illegal in Texas to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should know what you're risking if you choose to operate a boat under the influence.

  • The penalties for boating under the influence (BUI) can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail time.
  • Alcohol is involved in about one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
  • A boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver on land. The marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray – accelerates a drinker's impairment. These stressors cause fatigue and a boat operator's coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.
  • Most recreational boaters don't operate a boat every day and are less experienced and confident on the water than on the highway.

Source: U.S. Coast Guard