by John Skinner
I wrote a recent Blog entry about the new Suffolk County law (law text)
that requires all Suffolk County residents boating on Suffolk County waters to take a boating safety course and have the safety certification on-board. You can read that Blog entry here
if you missed it. I took the course last weekend in a classroom setting because I was under the impression that online classes without a proctored exam would not satisfy the law. After some communications with the County Executive's office, I think it's safe to say that you can satisfy the course requirement online and absolutely free. The key is the very end of this part of the law:No resident of Suffolk County shall operate a pleasure vessel upon the waters of Suffolk County unless the operator is the holder of a boating safety certificate issued by the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; by the United States Power Squadrons; by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary; or by any entity that offers a boating course that meets the standards set by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators
If you go to the BoatUS Online Learning Center
, it opens with"Welcome to the new BoatUS Foundation Online Learning Center. Our free, interactive, non-proctored course and exam has been approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)".
So right off this course sounds like it will satisfy the County law. If you follow the link to the BoatUS New York course page
, things become a little more iffy. The webpage says:"The BoatUS Foundation's Online Course is the only free Online Boating Safety Course approved by the New York State Parks & Recreation for boaters 18 years of age and older.
I'm not sure what BoatUS means by this statement, because NYS does not require a safety course for for boaters 18 years or older. You can read the requirements on the New York State Parks site
The BoatUS website goes on to say: "This course is NOT approved for New York residents who are 10 through 17 years of age, wishing to operate a motorboat, and residents 14 years of age and older, wishing to operate a PWC. These boaters are required to pass a New York State Parks & recreation approved classroom boating safety course."
Are you confused yet? I was, but it seemed to me that the wording of the County law left open the possibility of the BoatUS online course satisfying the new law. I contacted the Suffolk County Executive's Office to get clarification. This is the summary question I posed to John Marafino, a Community Relations Assistant in the County Executive's office. "The Yes/No question I need answered is whether this online class http://www.boatus.org/onlinecourse/NewYork.asp will meet the requirement of the new law..."
Here was his response:Dear John,
My understanding of the NASBLA website is that the listings of classes on there, online or in person, satisfy the requirement of the new law. Since the Boatus.org website is on the NASBLA site, you will fulfill the new law's requirement by taking it.
Community Relations Assistant
Office of the Suffolk County Executive
So there you have it. If you live and boat in Suffolk and have not yet satisfied the new boater safety law requirement, you apparently can do it free and online. I'm writing this as the blizzard is bearing down, so I'm thinking this might be a good way to be productive while we're snowed in for a few days – assuming we have electricity and Internet access.