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Articles about the Mandatory Boaters Education for Non-motorized vessels (canoes, kayaks, sailboats)


A boating advisory council may soon recommend that operators of kayaks and other non-motorized vessels must pass a safety course before they are allowed on the water.

The Florida Boating Advisory Council will consider the proposal for non-motorized vessels at its meeting Tuesday in Key Largo. The proposed safety course would be required for vessels such as canoes, kayaks, row boats and sailboats.

The 18-member council  which advises the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission < recommended earlier this year that motorboat operators of all ages have to pass a safety course.

Current Florida law requires the course for anyone 21 years of age or younger operating a motorboat of 10 horsepower or more.

The Florida Legislature would need to give final approval before regulations become law. Maj. Paul Oulette, leader of the commission¹s boating and waterways section, said the Legislature would likely consider the plans at its upcoming 2007 session.

Twenty-two states either require motorboat operators of all ages to pass a safety course or are phasing in such requirements, according to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Under the current proposal in Florida, the plan would be phased in over a three-to-five year window.

Officials say boating-related deaths show the need for increased education.

Of 81 boating deaths in 2005, a dozen involved non-motorized vessels, though  none involved kayaks, according to the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The statistic shows there isn¹t a need for kayaks to be regulated in such a way, said Brack Barker, owner of Wild Florida Adventures in Williston.

Barker said the course would discourage out-of-state tourists from kayaking.

Information from: The Gainesville Sun, http://www.gainesvillesun.com


Paddlers may need to pass safety course
By news-press.com
Originally posted on December 04, 2006

Hurricane season's over, but there's another kind of storm brewing.

It's over a proposal to make users of non-motorized watercraft pass a safety course. Although just in a very-early talking stage, if it became state law, all of us might have to take a test before dipping a paddle into the water.

Given Southwest Florida's emphasis on water-based eco-tourism, the initial response from paddling guides and canoe and kayak liveries is understandable.

"It's crazy," said Connie Langmann, of Gaea Guides, Fort Myers.

"It would be a disaster," said Wendy Erler, general manager for Tarpon Bay Explorers, Sanibel.

"Ludicrous," said D.T. Minich, director for Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, taking time out from vacation to call.

In case you missed the report in Sunday's editions of The News-Press:

The Florida Boating Advisory Council will consider the boater-education proposal today at its meeting in Key Largo. The proposed safety course would be required for such vessels as canoes, kayaks, row boats and sailboats.

The 18-member council, which advises the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, recommended earlier this year that motorboat operators of all ages have to pass a safety course. Current Florida law requires the course for anyone 21 years of age or younger operating a motorboat of 10 horsepower or more.

On the proposal to educate kayakers, etc., I haven't yet found any details such as course content, who'd be eligible to teach it or the costs.

I did have a quick phone chat with Maj. Paul Ouellette of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He clarified a few things, specifically:

The FWC staff did not come up with this idea, nor is the staff promoting it. The proposal arose from a subcommittee to the advisory council.

The advisory council is expected to weigh in on the idea today. Currently, it is not on the agenda for a vote by Fish and Wildlife commissioners.

Even if the full advisory council and fish and wildlife commission gave the idea a thumb's up, it would take a favorable vote by the Florida Legislature to become law.

Even with all of those caveats, Becky Bragg at the Canoe Outpost in Arcadia is alarmed. Through an e-mail she said that she's been urging her peers to look into the matter since September.

"I believe it will close down the youth group paddling market or hinder it tremendously," Bragg said.

"Kids will be required to take the test too, anyone who touches a paddle including any out-of-state paddlers."

Bragg thinks proponents would use a test similar to that required for users of personal watercraft. She continued in her e-mail: "Young kids can't pass the (personal watercraft) test, which is probably a good thing, but to hold a paddle?

"Larger outfitters handle hundreds of people a day and will have to require everyone have to sit down and take a test. Can you imagine the paperwork nightmare? Try 50,000 people a year, just through my gates.

"As I try to sort out the idea, I keep going back to the licensed driver-unlicensed bicyclist analogy.

"An ignorant kayaker or canoeist can endanger themselves and others. Same goes for a bicyclist.

"It's also conceivable either sport practitioner somehow, might be at fault in an injurious encounter with a responsible, educated operator of a motorized mode of transportation.

"Surely, though, speed of travel makes a difference. So, until it's state law that motorized watercraft users of all ages must be educated and certified, I can't even begin to support it for paddlers.

"Feel free to shoot an e-mail to me if you agree or disagree."

naplesnews.com - Some boaters hope this plan sinks

By Jennifer Brannock By Jennifer Brannock
Monday, December 4, 2006

Boating council to mull proposal requiring people to pass a safety course before operating non-motorized crafts

Canoe and kayak enthusiasts are less than enthused about a new regulation that could require them to pass a safety course before hitting the water.

The Florida Boating Advisory Council will meet Tuesday to consider the proposal, which would require people wanting to use canoes, kayaks, row boats and sailboats to pass a safety course.

Philadelphia resident Scott Downs said he likes to kayak when he visits his parents in Naples. If the new regulation is passed, Downs, 32, said he may have to pass on the pastime.

"I wouldn't be able to go out right now," said Downs, just before setting off in a kayak in Isles of Capri.

"I could see it on motorized vehicles, because people are getting killed, but not on kayaks."

Of 81 boating deaths in 2005, 12 involved non-motorized vessels. None involved kayaks, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Kayakers Nancy and Jim McDermott said they don't like the idea of having to take safety courses before embarking.

"It would be a deterrent, especially for someone who has done it before," Nancy McDermott, 56, said. "It's not like we're going out, and being reckless.

"It all comes back to personal responsibility. People just need to be responsible for themselves."

Purveyors of non-motorized boats expect they would see a dip in business if safety courses are required.

"I don't see how it could be feasible, unless they let us do (the courses) here," said Halle Wienges, who rents out kayaks for Saltwater Sports at Capri Fish House in Isles of Capri.

"A lot of people don't like to get involved in licensing."

If approved, the Florida Boating Advisory Council will present its proposal to the Fish and Wildlife Commission for approval. The final approval would go to the Florida Legislature.

If approved, the plan would be phased in over a three-to-five year period.

In the meantime, Halle said he will keep giving instruction to those who ask for it, and let those who know their way around the water go it alone.

"Kayaks really aren't trouble for anyone," he said. "They're pretty simple to figure out."

©2006 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions. Published in Naples, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.


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Posted by rtsspeaks at 7:24 a.m. on December 4, 2006

They will also have an expensive license for passengers on boats if they could! Licensing is a stupid thing that will send people elsewhere to enjoy themselves. Are Florida politicians so stupid that they will find a way to tax everything??

Posted by alancodi at 8:23 a.m. on December 4, 2006

Statistics speak for themselves. Don't fix it if it ain't broken. No accidental kayaking deaths means none - zip - nada! leave kayakers alone to enjoy their quiet, safe and healthy sport. Concentrate your effort where it's needed: Install speed governors on waverunners and watch the death toll fall to half of what it is now.

Posted by stevepk at 8:28 a.m. on December 4, 2006

Don't people realize that it is the responsibility of government to take whatever steps are necessary to protect citizens from every conceivable danger. Risk must be eliminated. We are all children and are incapable of weighing potiental dangers and deciding for ourselves whether to procede or not. Plus, everything must be taxed.

Posted by artrules at 8:58 a.m. on December 4, 2006

If Florida is going to pass an idiotic regulation such as this one, they should first target the group of people who are the most dangerous to everyone on the water! They should require the people who come down here and rent power boats for a day to pass a safety test! They are usually the ones involved in the accidents, get lost, run aground, have no idea how to operate a radio or read a chart or turn on a GPS! Kayakers, canoers and sailors are usually the safest people on the water and the most responsible! But yet anyone with a driver's license can rent a power boat and they would go unregulated!

Posted by Anonymous at 9:03 a.m. on December 4, 2006

You don't even need a saftey coarse for a motorized boat if your over 21, this is the dumbest crap I have ever heard of.

Posted by aj at 11:10 a.m. on December 4, 2006

Yeah! Let's require that all people in bathtubs have a safty course also! Power boaters can just jump in and turn the key. Waverunners can just hop on and start screaming across the water making all kinds of noise and ruining a nice peaceful day. Putting mufflers on waveruners....now that's a great idea!

Posted by nongeriatric at 11:36 a.m. on December 4, 2006

go ahead and fine me

Posted by ToddMunch at 1:43 p.m. on December 4, 2006

waverunners have mufflers, and most of the new models are 4 strokes , they are quieter than your car now

Posted by honeybee at 1:48 p.m. on December 4, 2006

We should be rewarding the environmentally conscious and true enthusiasts who use canoes, kayaks, sailboats and the like...not penalizing them. This is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard! I agree with all of you...powered water vehicles are far more likely to be mishandled and cause damage to others!

Posted by artrules at 2:32 p.m. on December 4, 2006

I totally agree with honeybee! Florida is no.2 in the country with owners of power boats, Michigan is no. 1. But you never hear of regulations for power boating. Seems as if the sailors, canoers and kayakers are easier to pick on. Government is afraid to regulate the majority? Don't want to make those power boaters mad? Afraid to lose votes?

Posted by northernlight at 6:39 p.m. on December 4, 2006

No question about it, all boaters should be safety certified. As a power boater in Michigan and Florida, I have seen some awful stunts by both power and non power boats. While I respect the environmental initiative by Kayakers and baggers, I often see them with no knowledge of the "rules of the road" particulary when they crowd or cut-off larger power boats that can't turn on a dime and must watch out for shallows. Of course it would be looked at like it was the larger boat's fault if there were an accident. How can we look out for the safety of boaters when the state can't even get the slow drivers out of the passing lanes on the highways.

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