Did you know that more than 40,000 individuals in the U.S. sail every year? Whether it’s on one of the coasts or on any of the countless lakes, sailing is an activity that can be enjoyed in all 50 states. 

But what are the requirements for sailing? Most importantly, do you need a boat license to sail? Read on to learn more about this and other sailing tidbits.

Do You Need a Boat License to Sail? 

To answer this question, you have to answer another question, what state do you live in? It is likely that you will need some sort of education to sail, as all but seven states have boating education and licensing requirements. The states that do not have a mandatory boater education law are:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Arizona
  • Wyoming
  • South Dakota
  • Maine
  • Arkansas

The requirements vary greatly between the states. For instance, some states have age requirements that differ from those that operate those who rent a boat. Other states have regulations that differentiate between manually propelled boats and motorized watercraft. You should review the requirements of the state you live reside to determine what you must do to go sailing.

What Type of License/Education Can I Get?

The American Sailing Association offers several certifications that are accepted by many states. These courses are offered in person and online. Some of these courses include:

Basic Small Boat Sailing

This course teaches basic terminology, seamanship, and safety principles in the operation of smaller sailboats. This course is designed for navigating in light to moderate wind conditions. 

Basic Keelboat Sailing

Also designed for light to moderate wind conditions, this course teaches you the basics of operating a midsized keelboat. This course teaches you how to operate a boat during the day.

Basic Coastal Cruising 

If you’re looking to operate an auxiliary-powered keelboat during the day, this course is for you. This course introduces you to boat systems, basic engine operation, and basic coastal operation. 

Bareboat Cruising

If you’re more experienced and want to operate a larger auxiliary-powered sailboat, this course is for you. Unlike the courses above, this course prepares you to operate in more serious weather conditions and over multiple days. 

What Else Should You Consider? 

To maintain a boat license, most states have a renewal process that you must complete every few years. This often requires meeting continuing education requirements and paying a renewal fee. 

There are other considerations that you should make once you have your boat license. These include paying attention to the weather and learning the waterway before you start out.

Are You Ready for Your License?

Now that you know more about the requirements for a boat license, what are you waiting for? There are different courses to choose from depending on the boat you own and where you want to sail. If your state has requirements, check those out, as well as the renewal process.

If you need more help, contact us for all your needs.