State to mandate safety course for boaters

Keehi Small Boat Harbor

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will soon be cracking down on boaters.

Starting Nov. 10, anyone behind the wheel of a motorized vessel must show proof of completing an approved boater safety course.

The state says there’s a course that fits every boater’s schedule, budget, and situation.

In fact, one boater we spoke to says he’s taking the free course online.

“It’s very thorough and it’s not just a click through and get your certificate. You have to learn the material,” said boater Gene Hoffman. “It’s relatively time-consuming, but compared to what I’m learning, it’s a worthy investment of time. I think it will pay off dividends in safety.”

The law was signed back in Nov. 2012, but allowed for a two-year delay before the rule would be enforced.

“It’s a good thing and I like people to know what to do in the water and have their safety stuff in order. So it’s only good,” said boater Tom Holden. “They make you know what the lights mean and how to tell which way a boat’s going and just basic piloting and navigation.”

But not everyone may be on board with the new law.

“I think a lot of the old timers probably don’t like it. They probably think I’ve been driving boat for 40 years and I gotta take this now. But I think it’s a good thing,” said boater Wayne Kaminaka.

Anyone who violates the law could face a fine of up to $1,000, spend up to 30 days in jail for each violation, or both. Violators can also be prevented from operating a vessel in state waters for up to 30 days.

“Before a course like this, it’s kind of a free for all and you have to trust that people have the right background. And this, I’ll be more confident that all the boaters on the water will have at least a very basic knowledge,” Hoffman said.

For more information on boater safety education, visit this website.

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