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Young boaters should have proper ID

Editor's note: This is one of an occasional series of columns which are run periodically. Today's column is written by Wilbur B. Scott, public affairs officer for Flotilla 15-4 of Homosassa, Fla., call him at 628-0639.

Homosassa Flotilla 15-4 of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary wishes to remind young boaters: If you wish to operate a power boat or other watercraft with a motor of over 10 horsepower, and without an adult on board, you must have a Florida boater safety education identification card.

Who needs a card?

Anyone born after Sept. 30,1980, who wants to operate a vessel with a motor of more than 10 horsepower in Florida waters without an adult attendant to operation.

What does the card allow?

The card allows individuals born after Sept. 30,1980, to operate a vessel with a motor of more than 10 horsepower alone.

The card does not allow prohibited behavior. A person must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft. A person under the age 14 with a card is not allowed to to operate a personal watercraft.

How to obtain a card.

Take a course approved by the state and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators of at least eight hours. The How to Boat Smart book and test are approved. All USCG Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron courses that are eight or more hours are approved.

How to replace a lost or stolen card?

Send a postcard with your name, return address, date of birth, along with a $2 check or money order marked "replacement card" to: 620 S Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600

What must be on board?

Operators must have a state issued card and some form of photographic identification on board the vessel while operating. The only acceptable Boater Safety Identification Card is one issued by the state.

What can visitors do?

If an out-of-state visitor has a NASBLA card or certificate approved from another state, then he or she may operate a vessel in Florida.

Some rental companies are part of the "Temporary Certificate Vendor Program." This allows the vendor to provide a shortened course to students. If they pass an on-site test, the person will receive a temporary certificate valid for a year. They must have this certificate on board the vessel while operating along with photo identification. The certificate is a numbered carbon copy of the test with the name, address, date of birth and signature of the person taking the test.

Where and when can I take an approved course?

April 2, the Homosassa Flotilla 15-4 of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary will be conducting an eight-session "Boating Safety and Seamanship" course from 7 to 9 p.m. each Monday and Thursday at the Central Florida Community College, County Road 491, Lecanto. The final class is scheduled for April 26. There will be a $5 registration fee plus a minimal charge for study materials which the student will keep upon completion of the course.

How do I register?

To register call the CFCC campus at 746-6721. Please note that this a very popular course and seating is limited. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come basis so please register early.

What if I am an adult. Can I take this course?

Absolutely. Although the course is designed for the entry-level boater, the prudent skipper knows the value of updating his/her knowledge and skills.

Did you know that some insurance companies offer boat owners a discount on their boating insurance policies for the successful completion of this course? That alone should be worth the effort. If it isn't, how about the safety of your family and other passengers?

Flotilla 15-4 reminds all boaters to practice safe and courteous boating.