May 8, 2014

Editorial: New state law protects boaters

With the weather finally starting to improve, local boat owners have their eyes on the lake.

The state has taken a new step to make sure motorboats are operated safely.

As of this month, people born on or after May 1, 1996, who want to drive a boat must earn a Boating Safety Certificate.

That requires completing an approved eight-hour course, available through the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, U.S. Power Squadron or U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Kids younger than 10 can’t take the class.

Several courses are coming up at local sites:

Clinton Community College: New York State Parks and Recreation Boater Safety, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 17, June 14. Free; and Power Squadron Boater Safety, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., May 20. Free. Register online at or 562-4139.

Clinton County Sheriff’s Office: Boater Safety Course, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 10, 31, June 7, 21, 28. Free. Register at 565-4338.

South Plattsburgh Fire Department, sponsored by Plattsburgh Flotilla 15-8 Coast Guard Auxiliary: Boating Safety, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., May 17; and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., June 3, 5. Fee: $30 for study booklet, certificate, wallet card. Register at 493-7251 or 

Check for more courses at

Young people who earn a Boating Safety Certificate can have it reflected as an icon on their New York State Driver’s License, Non-Driver’s ID or Learner Permit. Then they won’t have to carry a separate certificate. There is a small fee to get the license with the designation right away or it is free at the next renewal.

Two important safety precautions that every boater should follow: Wear a life jacket and don’t drink alcohol while boating. Most boating tragedies around the North Country have involved people ignoring those rules.

The state requires that pleasure vessels carry at least one USCG-approved Type I, II or III life jacket for each person. They have to be in good condition, the right size and readily accessible — never kept in plastic bags or under lock and key.

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