Deputies patrol Thurston County waters

by: Richard Thompson Updated:


Lacey, Wash. - KIRO-7 climbed aboard a Thurston County sheriff's boat as the marine patrol headed out on Long Lake for the Fourth of July. Deputy Jeff Norton and Sgt. Dave Odegaard were looking for drunk or reckless boaters out on the water but they were also checking to make sure all powerboat captains had the required state Boater Education Card.

"I'm checking for boater education cards." said Norton as he pulled up to a 19-foot outboard that had been pulling a wakeboarder. The captain of the boat told the deputy he was 44 years old and thought he did not need the card until next year. Norton explained that's not the case, stating, "Ages 50 and under to 12 years old have to have a Boater's Education Card to operate a vessel 15 horsepower or greater."

The deputies followed the boat captain back to his family's lakeside home, where he provided a driver's license and was given an $87 ticket.

Boat operators 50 or younger are required to take a Washington State-approved boater education course either online or in a classroom, pass a test and pay $10 to the state to obtain their card.

Deputies tell KIRO-7 when the state's boater education requirement started six years ago, only boaters 20 years old and younger were required to have cards, but the age requirement has risen each year and older boat owners should not be surprised they are now required to have a card. "There's not a grace period; if you don't have the card, you don't have the card, and if you're a responsible boater, you should be knowing the stuff you need to have."

Next year, the age requirements for boater education will rise again and all boat operators 59 and  younger will be required to obtain a state Boater Education Card.