Outdoors: Boating classes and online courses available

COLUMBUS — From March 17-23, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators are encouraging boaters to “Spring Aboard” by enrolling in a boating education course.

“Education is key to having a safe and enjoyable day on the water,” said natural resources Director Mary Mertz. “Spring is an excellent time to take a boater education class for anyone who will spend time on a boat this summer.”

A boating safety course provides critical information to prepare both new and veteran boaters for the potential risks faced while boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, statistics show that when the level of operator education was known, 81 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction.

In Ohio, a boater education course is required for anyone operating a boat over 10 horsepower who was born on or after Jan. 1, 1982. Ohio’s boater requirement can be met by taking and passing an approved boating education course (classroom, online or home study), or by taking and passing a proficiency exam. For a summary of Ohio’s regulations and available courses, go to watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/coursesearch.

Free classroom courses are being offered around the state on March 23.

In Southeast Ohio, the course is offered 8-4 p.m. at the Scioto Field Office. Call 740-353-7668 to reserve a place.

Many national course providers, such as Ace Boater, BoatEd and BoaterExam, are offering course discounts for students who enroll in or complete a course during the Spring Aboard campaign. Course providers and offerings may vary between states. Ohio requires that completed courses meet the national boating education standards for powerboat rental or operation, as verified by NASBLA. To ensure a course qualifies, look for the NASBLA-approved logo.

The Spring Aboard campaign is open to participation by all states, territories, boating education organizations, instructors and course providers. For more information about the Spring Aboard campaign, visit springaboard.org.