Boating safety courses you can take

By Tom Keer

Jan 11, 2017

Online boat safety courses are a great way to learn new skills or brush up on old ones.  And winter is the perfect season for a boat ed course so you'll be ready to launch when the ice melts.

Even though we're past the Winter Solstice it sure doesn't feel like it.  The sun still sets early, the pitch-black darkness seems unending, and it's bitter cold outside.  Save for some ice fishing trips I have the most amount of free time during this season.  I always look for a constructive way to pass the time until it's spring and I can hit the water.  Boat ed is the way to go.

There are a variety of different online boating safety courses provided by several agencies geared for beginners, those with intermediate skill sets, and nautical experts.  Many of the boat ed classes cover basic boat handling and water safety tips, rules of the road, and boat maintenance.  Others offer classes geared toward topics relevant to a particular purpose like traveling through locks or hurricane preparation.  I always like the weather for boaters classes because they always have some new information beyond what I learned from experience or the Farmer's Almanac.  When it comes to boating classes near me I can simply go to my living room.

As each state has specific laws you can find that information as well.  Rules and regulations change all the time and a quick review gets everyone current and up-to-speed.  One fact I learned about my own state laws is that it's illegal to operate a boat in an overloaded condition.  That means I'm going to have to go on a diet 'cause I'm not bringing any less fishing gear.   

An online boating safety course isn't just a good way to learn new skills.  They're a great way to refresh and remember existing skills.  In many parts of the country like mine there is a long time from when I haul at the end of the season and splash to begin the next one.  I'm prone to forget things I don't do regularly, so boat ed courses serve as an easy reminder.

Aside from gear maintenance and tying flies I always brush up on my boating skills.  Since it's dark and cold outside a boat ed course is a great way to constructively pass the time.  When it's go time in the spring there won't be any hesitation from me.

Visit our section How to choose your boat section to learn more about the different types of fishing boats, types of hulls, type of boat engines and more.
Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at