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MA Boating License Infromation

Safety Education Certification

In Massachusetts:

  • Youth who are between 12 and 15 years of age must complete an approved basic boating course in order to operate a motorboat without adult supervision. 
  • Upon successful completion of such a course, students are issued a state "boating safety certificate" which must be in the possession of the certified operator when underway. 
  • Personal watercraft users who are 16 or 17 years of age must also complete such a boating course. Youth less than 16 years of age are not allowed to operate personal watercraft.
All adults are encouraged to also complete an approved basic boating course. Understanding the "Rules of the Road", required safety gear, principles of boat handling, navigation, what to do in an emergency, and other important aspects of boating are critical to ensuring a safe and enjoyable day on the water with family and friends. 

Go to:  Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Courses website to learn more about the course offerings.


The Woods Hole Flotilla offers two options of approved courses that meet the Massachusetts requirements for a boating certificate:

America's Boating Course is a one-day boating certificate class that provides the basic knowledge needed to obtain a boating certificate.

Boating Skills & Seamanship is an 8 week course (one evening a week for two hours per week) This course is a more comprehensive boater certificate course designed for both the experienced and novice boater. 

Some insurance companies will also offer discounts on boating insurance to boaters who successfully complete these courses.

The Flotilla offers a third course that is offered that is not an approved course for the Massachusetts boating certificate:

Weekend Navigator/Principals of Navigation - This course is designed to provide both a basic and advanced navigation course that includes the use of charts, parallel rulers, dividers, and compass to insure safety if your electronics go out. A basic overview of GPS is also included. This course provides students with the rudiments of navigation by understanding the skill of navigation using charts, plotting tools, and dead reckoning. The intent is to provide the student with a solid foundation with emphasis on technique without a blind reliance on electronics.

Contact the Woods Hole Public Education Staff Officer to learn more