Operating a boat in without an official Pleasure Craft Operator Card, or PCOC license, will result in a minimum $ 250 fine if you are caught doing so. Given the reasons for the institution of this law, there is little good reason for someone to avoid obtaining this certification.
The purpose of the boat license is to prove basic competency while operating a powered watercraft. By studying for and passing the test you are learning how to confidently operate a boat in a way that is responsible, safe and environmentally friendly. If you choose to drive a boat without obtaining your operator card then you are putting at risk the boating safety of others, yourself and your expensive investment.
Operating anything large, heavy and that can travel at high speeds requires knowledge and responsibility. Logically someone driving a two ton speedboat at one hundred miles an hour should be at the very least minimally educated. Prior to 2009 basically anyone could legally operate a boat and the result was that hundreds of people died each year, and the greatest percentage of boater deaths were attributed to boat captains with no formal training.
As of September 15, 2009 it has been mandatory for operators of any and all powered watercrafts to have completed and passed their boating exam. A powered watercraft is any water vessel that it outfitted with any motor. Therefore if your boat has a motor, regardless of horsepower, and the motor is attached to the boat in any way, regardless if its in use, it is classified as a powered watercraft.
The idea of obtaining a boating license might initially sound like a hassle but the process is actually quite simple. Within a matter of hours it is possible to complete the entire boater exam process.
How easy is it to obtain your PCOC license? Step one is determining what is your best study and test method - online or in person. Step two is finding an accredited course provider. Step three is preparing for the boat exam in one of the following ways: reading and studying a home study guide (which will be provided online or obtained at the office of your chosen course provider), watching a CD-ROM, taking an online safe boating course, or by signing up for a classroom course. Step four involves completing the 50 multiple choice questions that will take a maximum time of seventy five minutes either online or at the office of your course provider. Once you pass the test with a total score of 75% or higher then you can immediately print a copy of your PCOC License (or alternatively one will be promptly mailed to you) while you wait for your permanent one in the mail. The Pleasure Craft Operator License is valid for a lifetime and does not require renewal.
Once you have obtained your PCOC license, carry your card on you every time you are operating a boat. Boating can be fun, but operating a motorized watercraft unsafely can have serious consequences.