New Law Emphasizes Boater Safety

Boater education prevents accidents and saves lives. Whether or not their state requires it, all boaters have a responsibility to learn about boat operation, communications, navigation, and life-saving techniques before taking to the water. Statistics bear out what logic suggests—those without boater education put themselves and others at risk. — American Boating Association

safe boating

Safe boating. Safe boating. Repeat. SAFE BOATING. That’s what Ferry Sloops members discussed during their monthly meeting.

One of several in the area, the non-profit, environmental sailing group inspires people to appreciate and protect the river, partnering with watchdog groups like Riverkeeper, Inc.. “We take notice of what’s going on, hold educational programs and recreational events, like (Sloop) Clearwater,” club president Chris Grieco explained.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary inspects its vessel, Whimbrel, every year; special attention is paid to safety and sponsoring safety courses.

“Everyone on the river should take a boating course,” Grieco said. “Like defensive driving, it explains the rules of the road — what to do when a boat is coming, who has the right of way, depending upon how your sails are set,” — how to navigate without visual guides (present when driving).

Ferry Sloops also offers people a chance to get up close and personal with the river via free sailing trips. “Hopefully, once they’re out there, they will take notice of things that affect the river negatively,” he said.

The first Wednesday of every month is an open-to-the-public meeting, with topics and speakers that relate to the river — like New York State’s brand-new Safe Boating Law, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on September 27.


Effective May 1, 2014, anyone born on or after May 1, 1996, must complete an eight-hour boating safety course before operating a mechanically-propelled vessel in the state’s navigable waters. Those born before May 1, 1996, are exempt.

The earlier law required anyone age 14 or older operating a personal watercraft to have a boating safety certificate, or be accompanied by someone older than 18 who holds a safety certificate. Really? Anyone can operate a boat without a license?

Three sources confirmed that I can operate a boat (I don’t have one; just saying) on the Hudson River without a boating license — because there is no such certificate or license. However, if I DID own a boat, I would have to register it with NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, and any boating accident/incident I cause would be affixed to my NYS driver’s license.

Certificates can be obtained, and the safety course completed, with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation, U.S. Power Squadrons, or the U.S. Coast Guard. Safe boating. Safe boating — especially now that the New NY Bridge project is full speed ahead.

The US Coast Guard recently established a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) 300 yards north and 200 yards south of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Boaters will have to use the main channel, reduce their wakes and use extreme caution therein until December 31, 2018. Comments and related material pertaining to the RNA will be accepted and reviewed by the Coast Guard through December 31, 2018.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

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