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Boating Safety
Boating Safety Education Requirements Take The Online Boating Safety Course
How to Register Your Boat How to Use a VHF Radio
Boating Regulations How to File a Float Plan
Waterway Markers Theft Prevention
Personal Flotation Devices  

Minimum Florida State Boating Requirements
Follow this link for a list of the equipment and lighting you MUST have on your boat when operating in the state of Florida.

Florida Marine Patrol
The Florida Marine Patrol is now known as the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC). Their main phone number is: 850-488-4676
Regional Offices:
Northwest Region - Regional Office - Panama City - 850-265-3676
North Central Region - Regional Office - Lake City - 386-758-0525
Northeast Region  - Regional Office - Ocala - 352-732-1225
Southwest Region - Regional Office - Lakeland - 863-648-3200
South Region - Regional Office - West Palm Beach - 561-625-5122

Boating Safety Education Requirements
Anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 who operates a vessel powered by 10 horsepower or more must pass an approved boater safety course and have in his/her possession photographic identification and a boating safety education identification card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Take Your Boater Exam Online!

This online boating safety course is approved by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Successfully completing this course will allow you to obtain the official Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card. The boating safety course and exam are free - you only pay when you pass!

Click HERE to take the course

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency in state government for environmental management and stewardship and is one of the more diverse agencies in state government, protecting our air, water, and land. The Department is divided into three primary areas: Regulatory Programs, Land and Recreation, and Policy and Planning. Florida's environmental priorities include restoring America's Everglades, improving air quality, restoring and protecting the water quality in our springs, lakes, rivers and coastal waters, conserving environmentally-sensitive lands and providing citizens and visitors with recreational opportunities, now and in the future. If you see illegal dumping (black water tank from a boat, hazardous waste, etc.), call the Broward County Environmental Protection Complaint Hotline and they will refer you to the proper authority to report the incident to: Call 954-519-1499.

Tips for Safe Boating
No matter how many years you've been around boats, please take just 5 minutes to scan this safety information. People who hunt or fish from boats have one of the highest boat fatality rates. More die from falling off boats 16 feet and smaller than larger boats, and most boats are anchored at the time.

Take Your Boater Exam Online!

Free Vessel Safety Check
Are you unsure about the proper and current equipment needed on your boat? The United States Sail & Power Squadron and the Coast Guard Auxiliary offer a free vessel safety check of your boat, while it's in the water or on the trailer. For a FREE Vessel Safety Check of your craft, any type, where it is located, visit the National Department of Vessel Safety Checks to find a Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Safety Check Examiner in your area.

Safety Equipment Requirements
Class A (less than 16 ft)
Class 1 (16 to less than 26ft)
Class 2 (26 to less than 40ft)
Class 3 (40 to less than 65ft)

Old Flares and Hazardous Wastes
Where can boaters take out-of-date flares and other hazardous wastes? (Including old gasoline, used batteries, paint and cleaning solvents, Methylene chloride paint stripper and bilge pump switches containing Mercury) In Palm Beach County the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center is at the landfill on Jog Road just north of 45th Street in West Palm Beach. They are open Monday thru Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call 687-1100. Do not throw old flares in the trash or water. Do not fire off old flares on the 4th of July or during other holiday events! Soaking flares in water is not a good disposal option since some flares react when exposed to water.

Boating Rules of the Road

On the water, the stand-on (privileged) boat has the right-of-way. The give-way (burdened) boat must give way. At night, running lights provide information about size, direction, and speed of the other vessel.

Rip Currents
rip currents
Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes.

Rip currents can be killers. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation's beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.

The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards.  The United States Lifesaving Association has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million. If caught in a rip current at an unguarded beach, how you respond could make the difference between life and death.

How to Safely Trailer Your Boat
The Towing Capacity Guide makes it easy for you to find the right match between vehicles and towables such as boats, campers, horse trailers, motorcycles and other recreational equipment.

Used Oil
Most marinas accept used oil for recycling. If not, call this toll free number and enter your zip code or leave a message to locate the nearest public used oil collection center: 1-800-741-4337.

Search the Marine Business Directory (Browse All Categories)
Boating Instruction First-Aid Products
Safety Equipment & Clothing Life Boats & Rafts
Training & Education Fire Protection

US Coast Guard Boat

U.S. Coast Guard
Florida is in District 7 of the United States Coast Guard. There are 4 Sectors in this District:

Sector St Petersburg
TAMPA, FL 33606
Primary Phone: 813.228.21921 X 8108
Emergency Phone: 727.824.7506
Fax Number: 813.228.2050

Sector Key West
KEY WEST, FL 33040
Primary Phone: (305)292-8809
Emergency Phone: (305)292-8727
Fax Number: (305)292-8739

Sector Miami

Primary Phone: 305-535-8700
Emergency Phone: 305-535-4472/4473
Fax Number: 305-535-8761

Sector Jacksonville
Primary Phone: (904) 564-7500
Emergency Phone: (904) 564-7511/12
Fax Number: (904) 564-7519

Local Notice to Mariners

Safe Boating Tools
It's always a good idea to have Charts & Maps of the areas you plan to boat in. Lessons on how to boat or how to sail are also highly recommend for the new mariner. NOAA now offers a way to access, download and print the latest Raster Navigation Charts. Each chart is presented as a set of letter-size pages that can be printed from your computer.
Download charts

Homeland Security
Boaters in South Florida and across the state are encouraged to call a new hotline (877) 24-WATCH, to report any potential terrorist activities. The list of criteria to be on the lookout for includes suspicious people who photograph or make sketches of unusual places, probe waterways with rented watercraft, sell or deliver illegal merchandise, or ask unusually detailed questions about specific areas. If you suspect any terrorist activity or have questions regarding Operation On Guard, call your local Coast Guard Station or the new hotline.

Exposure causes loss of body heat. This is called hypothermia. Hypothermia can kill. Defense against hypothermia is to avoid exposure to cold. Do this by staying dry and avoiding the wind. Put on rain gear before you get wet. If you fall into cold water do NOT discard clothing; it will help trap heat. Avoid moving as much as possible. A life jacket helps in two ways. It helps with floatation and it helps to insulate against heat loss. When you wear a life jacket, draw knees up into a H.E.L.P. (Heat Escape Lessoning Position). If several persons are in the water, huddle together so you can conserve heat and stay alive. Treatment involves getting the victim out of cold producing environment. Strip off all wet clothing and get person into a warm sleeping bag. Try to keep person awake. Do NOT give alcohol or massage vigorously. Giving the person warm drinks or food is not a good idea. They don't help re-warm the person and they can pose a choking hazard. Transport the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.

Hypothermia Chart

If the water
temp (F) is...
Exhaustion or unconsciousness Expected time of survival is
32.5 under 15 min. 15-45 min.
32.5-40.0 15-30 min. 30-90 min.
40-50 30-60 min. 1-3 hr.
50-60 1-2 hr. 1-6 hr.
60-70 2-7 hr. 2-40 hr.
70-80 3-12 hr. indefinitely
over 80 indefinitely  

Florida Boating Alcohol Laws
It is a violation of Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. A vessel operator suspected of boating under the influence must submit to sobriety tests and a physical or chemical test to determine blood or breath alcohol content.

In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood or breath alcohol level is at or above .08. Any person under 21 years of age who is found to have a breath alcohol level of .02 or higher and operates or is in actual physical control of a vessel is in violation of Florida law.

Over 1,000 people die in boating accidents every year. Nine out of ten of them drown. About half of those deaths involve alcohol. It's a tragic fact and not a joke, but 50% of men who drown have their fly unzipped. Enough said? Four hours of exposure to powerboat noise, vibration, sun, glare, wind and motions produces a kind of "boater's hypnosis." This slows reactions almost as much as being legally drunk. Adding alcohol to this sun exposure intensifies the effects.

How To Load Your Boat
Be sure you know your boat's capacity. Look at the Capacity Plate. Don't overload it or put an oversize motor on it. Be sure the dock lines are tied securely before you put gear aboard or get aboard yourself. Don't wind up straddling from dock to boat. If the boat is small, step as near the centerline as possible, and stay low in the boat. As you load, look at how much distance there is between the water and the top edge of your boat (freeboard). Waves, or wakes from passing boats, can easily swamp a small boat with low freeboard. Don't overload. Don't load heavy gear to one side. Remember: When you overload, you are asking for trouble. Even with floatation, a swamped boat is dangerous. Capsizing and falls overboard account for 70% of boating fatalities.

Charter Captains
Thinking about starting your own fishing or scuba diving charter business in Florida? Click here to see the licensing requirements from the US Coast Guard.

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