While on the water, safety should always be your highest priority. The best way to ensure maximum safety is to obtain the proper certification/licensure and subsequent education. In Massachusetts, all sailors must carry a MA boating license, card, or endorsement. For fast reference, we suggest taking a look at the Massachusetts Boater Safety Handbook.
For younger sailors, Massachusetts requires a Boater Education Card; the regulatory authority for all cards and licenses is the Massachusetts Environmental Police Boat and Vehicle Safety Bureau. The card is mandatory for boat operators between the ages of 12 and 17 years. Though there is no age restriction for boat operators, sailors under 12 years of age must operate a boat under the direct, onboard supervision of an adult. In Massachusetts, you must be at least 16 to operate a personal vessel.
To obtain a Boater Education Card or small craft license, boaters must complete an educate course and exam approved by the Massachusetts Environmental Police. Similar to a driving class and exam, the course shows students how to operate and maintain boats, explains the legal requirements for boating, and provides protocol for handling emergencies.
The classroom education offered by the Massachusetts Environmental Police is between 10-12 spread over a few days or across several weekends. To pass the course, students bust obtain a score of 80% or higher. Once you have obtained this necessary certification and licensure, you are ready to launch.
For those who want to race, teach, or gain further accreditation, becoming an ASA Certified sailor is an important step toward pursuing the sport. Having this knowledge and certification will help sailors to be confident and safe on the ocean—whether you are planning to buy your own sailboat or charter a vessel while on vacation. The American Sailing Association provides certification programs for Keelboat Sailing, Small Boat Sailing, and Multihull Sailing. For more information about how to get ASA Certified, see the organization’s website.