A Summary of the California Boating Card Law and How it Affects You
First of all, further information about the California Boating Card (CBC) law can be found on the California Department of Boating and Waterways (CDBW) website http://www.dbw.ca.gov/ under Safety and Education. This summary attempts to boil it down to several key points:
- The California Boating Card law applies to all operators of motorized vessels **, including sailboats and dinghies with motors. It pertains to boater education and not vessel operation. Operation laws have been on the books for years and will continue to be enforced. The Card simply shows that one has taken and passed a written test for a qualified boater education class.
- The Card is required to operate a motorized vessel in California waters which includes lakes, rivers, bays, harbors, and waters three miles off-shore including islands such as the Channel Islands.
- The law is going into effect on January 1, 2018 after which all motorized vessel operators 20 years old and younger must get their card by December 31, 2018. Other age groups will be added each year until the end of 2025 when all operators, regardless of age, will need the Card – see below. Obviously, those 20 or younger MUST get their Card before the end of 2018 or be subject to a fine thereafter. Once you get the Card it’s good for life. One doesn’t have to wait for their age group year to get the Card. (Comment: The CBC law’s intent is to improve boater safety through mandatory basic education and the sooner boaters get this basic training the sooner its effects will be seen – so taking a class before your year comes up will benefit you and other boaters sooner.) Here is the phase-in schedule:
January 1, 2018 Persons 20 years of age or younger (must get the Card before end of 2018)
January 1, 2019 Persons 25 years of age or younger
January 1, 2020 Persons 35 years of age or younger
January 1, 2021 Persons 40 years of age or younger
January 1, 2022 Persons 45 years of age or younger
January 1, 2023 Persons 50 years of age or younger
January 1, 2024 Persons 60 years of age or younger
January 1, 2025 All persons regardless of age
- There are some exemptions from needing a California Boater Card such as operating a rental vessel, residents of other states that have a similar law, operating a vessel in an organized regatta or race, or having a current commercial fishing license. See the CDBW website for details.
- The CDBW is providing a “grace period” for those that have taken a qualified course recently, such as our America’s Boating Course (ABC). Even though the first enforcement year of the Card law applies to the 20 years or younger age group, anyone having taken our ABC class, which is qualified by the state, regardless of age, between January 1, 2015 and the end of 2017, and who has passed the test, can apply for the Card during the first enforcement year, 2018 – this is the grace period.
- Qualified classes are listed on the CDBW website. The state has a free class on-line. All others cost something, and most are on-line. The actual Card from the DCBW is expected to cost about $10 – that’s in addition to any class cost. Upon completion of a course such as our SBSPS ABC class you will receive a certification card indicating successful completion. You then would apply to the CDBW for the CBC. The CDBW might begin selling the Cards in the Fall of 2017. We will notify all students when the DCBW actually begins selling the CBC at which time you can apply on-line by providing your ABC Certification information.
**So, who is a motorized vessel operator? It’s anyone, any age, that operates a motorized vessel with two key constraints – Age of 16 yrs, and Engine Size of 15 hp as follows:
- For persons 16 years and older there are no restrictions for operators of motorized vessels including Personal Water Craft (PWC) and sailboats.
- Persons under 16 years cannot operate motorized vessels with greater than 15 hp motors, including PWCs, unless the motorized vessel is a sailboat less than 30 feet or a motorized dinghy tender used to go from a mooring to shore or to another moored boat.
- Persons 12 – 15 years can operate motorized vessels with greater than 15 hp, motors including PWCs, and motorized sailboats greater than 30 feet, if they are supervised on-board by an adult at least 18 years old.