The Delaware Office of Boating Safety and Education within the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Division of Fish & Wildlife joined the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators to encourage boaters to “Spring Aboard,” a March 19-25 nationwide campaign to prepare for boating season by enrolling in a boating safety course.

Under Delaware law, all persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1978, must complete a boating safety course in order to operate a boat or personal watercraft in Delaware waters. U.S. Coast Guard statistics from 2015, the most recent year available, indicate that when the level of operator education was known, 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction. Forty-nine states and U.S. territories require proof of completion of a boating education course for operators of some powered vessels, and many states, including Delaware, require completion of a course verified by NASBLA as meeting the national boating education standard for powerboat rental or operation.

Delaware’s eight-hour basic boating safety course, which fulfills Delaware’s mandatory boating safety class requirement, is offered in multiple locations statewide in one to four sessions. Upon completing the course, boaters receive a boating safety certificate, which they must carry with them while boating as proof of course completion.

The course covers the rules and regulations of Delaware’s waterways including appropriate speed limits, responsible boating skills and awareness and how to distinguish navigational aids and water depths. Also covered are weather tips, information about basic engine mechanics and required and/or recommended safety equipment, what to do if a Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officer stops the vessel and the dangers of boating under the influence.

Delaware’s Office of Boating Safety and Education also provides volunteer instructors to private and nonprofit organizations, schools, clubs and the general public to educate boaters on skills and seamanship and to encourage them to be safe, knowledgeable and responsible.

For information, course schedules and an electronic version of the Delaware Boating Handbook, visit bit.ly/2a8ONMs.