BlogMarch 2023

What Does a Boater Safety Course Online Cover?

What Does a Boater Safety Course Online Cover?

By Debbie Hanson

Mar 21, 2023

General overview of why a boater safety course online is an important step toward being a responsible boater, topics are covered in an online boating course

Completing a boater safety course online is an important initial step toward being a responsible boater. In fact, many states require that you take an online boating course before operating a motorized vessel or personal watercraft (PWC). Check with your state agency to find out which online boating safety courses they recommend or have approved.


Online Boating Course Topics

You might be wondering what you’ll learn by taking an online boater safety course. These courses educate boaters about state boating laws, boating navigational rules, required boating safety equipment, risks of boating accidents, and other guidelines that apply to safe boating. While this is not a complete list, it will give you a few examples of the topics that are covered when you take a boat safety course online.


Boat Registration and Titling Requirements

When you take a boating course online, you’ll find out how quickly a boat must be registered and numbered in your state from the date of purchase, how and where the registration numbers are to be displayed on your boat, and which types of boats are required to be titled (in Florida, for example, non-motor-powered vessels less than 16 feet in length do not need a title).


Required Safety Equipment

An online boat safety course will give you a list of the safety equipment you will be required to have on board your boat. This list might include items such as a sound-producing device (bell, whistle, or horn), visual distress signal (if on coastal waters or the high seas), type and number of personal flotation devices (PFDs), and type and number of fire extinguishers.


Boating Navigational Rules

When you take an online boating safety course; it will include an explanation of the U.S. Aids to Navigation System (ATON), basic navigation rules, what to do when encountering other vessels, types of navigation lights (for nighttime navigation), nautical charts, information on safely anchoring your boat, changing water levels (such as tides on coastal waters), and safe operation tips (like how an engine cut-off switch works and can prevent serious injuries).


While a Texas boater education course online might be slightly different than a Florida online boating course or VA boater safety course online due to specific state laws, these general topics are covered in every state boater safety course online.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.