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Division of Boating and Waterways has Added Spanish Boating Course

The Division of Boating and Waterways has announced the introduction of Curso de California para Navegación, a new, free Spanish course for boaters to understand and comply with boating laws.

SACRAMENTO — California is a cultural melting pot that has prompted the California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) to announce towards the end of January that a boating safety course will now be offered in Spanish. Like its English counterpart, the Curso de California para Navegación home study eBook is free and helps Californians comply with the mandatory boating education law that requires power boat operators to carry a California Boating Card to operate a motorized vessel on California or California-shared waterways legally. Applying for a card is simple. Boaters can start their application process by visiting or by calling (844) 421-8333. The card only costs $10 and lasts a lifetime.

Curso de California para Navegación is offered by California State Parks’ DBW. All other courses listed on are private companies that have gone through the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and state approval process. Therefore, the translation of their courses would be at each company’s discretion.

“We are pleased to offer this free, lifesaving resource to the state’s Spanish-speaking boaters,” said DBW Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez in a press release. “California has over 600,000 registered motorized recreational vessels, and Hispanic boaters represent a sizeable number of boat owners and operators. The more people learn the rules of boating. The safer California’s waterways will be for all.”

The translation of the boating safety course is the first Spanish boating safety course approved by the NASBLA. This association reviews and approves recreational boating education courses that meet the American National Standard (ANSI)/NASBLA Basic Boating Knowledge Standards produced by the National Education Standards Panel. These standards define general, entry-level knowledge a boater should possess for safe recreational boat operation. The development of these standards is a rigorous process, and ANSI ensures the requirements for due process, consensus, and other criteria for approval have been met. California requires a NASBLA approval for each course to meet the boating education requirements for the California Boater Card program.

NASBLA approval is valid for three years. Each course is certified individually. After that timeframe, any necessary updates or revisions will take place during the recertification process once each course qualifies for recertification.

Both of DBW’s Spanish and English courses are free and can be read and/or downloaded online at New and experienced boat operators will learn the many boating safety “rules of the road,” including:

  • Personal Safety: The importance of learning to swim and float and avoiding natural stressors.
  • Safety Equipment: Life jacket laws, different types of life jackets, and how to fit them correctly.
  • Navigation Rules/Aids to Navigation and Boating Law: How to navigate safely when in harbors and other busy waterways. Knowing and using the right safety equipment and proper vessel registration.
  • Vessel Operation and Activities: How to safely operate, fuel, and anchor your vessel. Understand different aquatic hazards, weather conditions, and safe watersport activities.
  • Personal Watercraft: How to prevent accidents and avoid creating hazards for other boaters when operating this type of vessel.
  • Accident Prevention and Rescue: How to prevent accidents, rescue others, and how to call for help.

U.S. Coast Guard boating accident data show that states with some form of boating safety education have fewer accidents and fatalities than states without any boater education requirements. California is one of the last states to implement a mandatory boating education requirement. The law is being phased in by age. As of Jan. 1, 2023, all boaters 50 years of age or younger must carry a card. All boaters, regardless of age, will need to carry one by Jan. 1, 2025. The card is a verification that its holder has successfully taken and passed an approved boating safety education course. It is important to note there are exemptions to the law. For example, those operating a rental vessel or possessing a valid marine operator’s license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard do not need to obtain a California Boater Card. To date, DBW has issued more than 143,000 cards.

For more information on the course, please visit

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