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Boaters, watercraft users urged to ‘Spring Aboard’ with boating safety course

Posted March 14, 2019

PHOENIX — Arizona’s boating season is on the horizon and in preparation, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and boating safety advocates nationwide are urging boaters to #KeepYourEdge by enrolling in a boating education course during the Spring Aboard campaign.

Spring Aboard is a national campaign that runs from March 17 to 23 and encourages boaters to protect themselves and their passengers by taking a safety course before stepping onto a boat or watercraft. This year, those who complete one of AZGFD’s free boating safety courses will be eligible to receive a free watercraft rental donated by Jet Action Rentals of Tempe, Havasu Adventures of Lake Havasu City, Parker Canyon Marina and Boats4Rent of Lake Pleasant.  

Register for an AZGFD boating safety course

“Everyone heading out on a boat should ensure their family is protected by completing a boating safety course,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boating Safety Education coordinator. “Those who successfully complete a course are better informed on how to avoid an accident or tragedy on the water. And because the Arizona Game and Fish Department offers them free of charge, there’s really no reason not to sign up for one today.”

Boating safety courses provide critical knowledge for those planning to head out on the water and better prepares them for the risks they may face. U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that of the deadly boating accidents investigated, 81 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the operator had never received any safety education.

AZGFD is partnering with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) to inform boaters about the benefits and necessity of taking a boating education course. During the Spring Aboard campaign, many course providers, including AZGFD, will offer incentives or course discounts for students who enroll in or complete a course.  

“Education — and wearing a life jacket — are key to ensuring everyone has a safe and enjoyable time on the water,” Hoffman said. “Everyone who might be on a boat this season — whether it be crew or passengers — should consider taking a safety course. Boaters have many ways to get educated, from classroom courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons, to online offerings available anytime day or night. There’s no reason to head out on the water without knowing what you’re doing.”

AZGFD offers free courses in Phoenix and Lake Havasu City monthly to provide water users the information and tips needed to stay safe while on the water. Each year many deaths and injuries on Arizona’s waterways are the result of people who don’t know how to operate a watercraft properly or how to act to avoid placing themselves in danger.

The department’s courses include instruction on the basic skills needed to safely operate a boat or personal watercraft, trailering your vessel, navigational rules, buoys, anchoring, legal requirements, boating emergencies, watersports and paddling. In addition, most insurance companies offer a discount on boat or watercraft insurance rates for completing a course.

The department also reminds watercraft users that all boats, including paddleboards, must have a wearable life jacket for every passenger onboard and those 12 years old and younger must wear a life jacket at all times, under state law. Users should also check to make sure a life jacket fits properly by ensuring there is no excess room above the openings of the jacket and that it does not ride up over the chin or face.  For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit and click on “Boating Safety Education.” To learn more about Spring Aboard, visit