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In Alabama and several other US states, any individual aged 12 and older who intends to operate a motorized boat needs to seek education. Those who are between 12 and 13 years need to be supervised by another person who is at least 21 years of age and capable of taking immediate control of the boat if necessary. Do note that completing a boating course is different from actually having a boating license.

Operators who meet any of the following criteria need not get a boating certification:

  • With a legal US Coast Guard Motorboat Operator’s License
  • Successfully accomplished a safe boating course approved by the ALEA Marine Police Division or a similar course offered by US Power Squadrons or the US Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • Aged 40 years or older as of April 28, 1994.

You need to register a boat within 72 hours after its purchase. Most powered watercraft (sailboats, mechanically propelled vessels, rental boats) must be registered in Alabama, except for the following:

  • Non-motorized boats
  • Boat trailers
  • Are registered and kept in another state (Note: Boats are allowed to operate for 90 days or less.)
  • With temporary certificates of number
  • Registered in another country and just temporarily operating in Alabama
  • A ship’s lifeboats
  • Owned by a government entity/agency
  • Have a commercial documentation with the US Coast Guard

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) also provides boat certification to ensure adherence to the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) standards. Around 90% of boats are built to ABYC Standards.

A boat safety course is usually taken by operators to save on their personal watercraft (PWC) or boat insurance. Insurance companies acknowledge the less likelihood of filing a claim for those who have taken the effort to commit to safety education and thus are open to lowering boat insurance rates. To guarantee the best possible premiums, consult with your insurance agent first before signing up.

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao