Boaters can take training

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 4, 2000

Lawrence County Marine Patrol officers will hold state boater education courses at least two more times before this summer’s boating season begins.

Tuesday, April 04, 2000

Lawrence County Marine Patrol officers will hold state boater education courses at least two more times before this summer’s boating season begins.

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"Actually, we’re going to try a course a month until we run out of people," said Carol Kitts marine patrol director and Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department detective.

State law requires those who turn 18 this year – anyone born after Dec. 31, 1981 – to show proof of successfully completing an approved boating education course or proficiency exam.

Passing the exam allows them to operate a boat or watercraft with more than 10 horsepower, Ms. Kitts said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft issues a certification card for boaters who meet the requirement.

But, few Ohio River boaters affected by the law take the education course, Ms. Kitts said.

A class earlier this month had only a handful of students when there should have been dozens there, she said.

"We know what’s going to happen in May or June when we get on the water," Ms. Kitts said. "They’re going to find out they need this."

When stopped for any violation, boaters required to have passed the exam must show proof or face a fine, she said.

The fine could range from $78 to $100, according to state law.

But marine patrol officers want the area’s young boaters to take the required education for a reason other than avoiding fines, Ms. Kitts said.

"Personally, I think everyone needs to take the class," she said. "The more safety conscious you are, the more fun everybody has on the river."

The courses also help everyone become a good river boater, which is much different than boating on a lake, Ms. Kitts said.

Students learn about navigation rules about buoys and barges, learn to avoid sandbars and how to make their way through the proper river channels.

They also learn rules about distance between boats and what is required to carry on board every boat, Ms. Kitts said.

The number one piece of equipment? Life jackets, she said.

The fine for not meeting state life jacket requirements can be as high as $263 per ticket, Ms. Kitts said.

"We want people to have fun and the best way to have fun is to be safe," she said. "The education course will help."

The next boating course in Lawrence County will be over three days – April 11, April 18 and April 25 – at 6 p.m. each night at the Lawrence County Municipal Court building.

Boaters have at least two other options – a home study course and a proficiency exam.

Classroom instruction remains the preferred method of meeting the education requirement but the Division of Watercraft recently reintroduced a home-study course that allows a person to complete the course at their own pace.

Participants have the option of completing a worksheet and exam and returning it to the division to be graded, or they can take a supervised test at selected sites across the state.

There are also online Internet tests available.

Students scoring 70 percent or higher on any of the options receive a certification card.

For more information about course dates or to obtain home study materials, call the Division of Watercraft at 614-265-6480 or visit the division’s Web site at