San Diego, CA

World Drowning Prevention Day Is The Perfect Opportunity for Brushing Up on Boat Safety in San Diego

J. Maginot

July 25 Brings World Drowning Prevention Day to San Diego With More Boats Out on The Water
Children's Pool Where the Latest Migrant Boat Wreck Occurred@ilovetobesmall via Twenty20

A recent spate of boating accidents off San Diego's coastline make this World Drowning Prevention Day the perfect time to brush up on boating safety.

California and San Diego have taken a more aggressive stance towards marine safety recently and with a post pandemic Summer in full swing, there isn't a better time to review what you can do to get up to speed with boat safety.

To ensure not only your own safety, but for that of everyone on the water.

California Boating Statistics
California Department of Parks

With its beautiful weather and plentiful waterways, San Diego is no stranger to boating activities, and naturally, boating accidents. The last year that boat accident records were available from the California Department of Parks shows a significant uptick in accidents, though a decrease in overall fatalities.

Accidents on Southern California waterways jumped from 282 in 2015 to 322 in 2016.
Southern California Accidents in 2016California Department of Parks

Accidents were most prevelant in San Diego's coastal waters where commercial, recreational, and illicit boating activities converge.

Required Boat Safety License California

In an attempt to curb reckelss and negligent boater behavior ending in property damage and bodily harm, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 941 which would mandate that every boater over the age of 16 carry with them at all times a Boater Safety Card, akin to a boating license like the Department of Motor Vehicles issues for drivers on motorways.

The phased roll out of enforcement began in 2018 and now encompasses most boters in California Waters.

  • January 1, 2018 – Persons 20 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2019 – Persons 25 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2020 – Persons 35 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2021 – Persons 40 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2022 – Persons 45 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2023 – Persons 50 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2024 – Persons 60 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2025 – All persons regardless of age

The cost of the program is $10 for a lifetime card and does require that boaters take a class and pass a test. More information about that can be found here.

USCG Commercial Licenses

In addition to the operating safety card every operator is required to carry moving forward, any person running a legitimate operation carrying others on their boat must have a commercial operator's license from the United States Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard "Six Pack" is a series of endoresements that allow boaters to operate as Charter Boat Captains and conduct commercial activity on their vessel. This would pertain to small fishing trips, sunset crusies, and towing for compensation. Some activities that wouldn't normally be considered commercial by a small boat operator.

Including Tiki Boat Tour Guides.

ASA Courses

While the Coast Guard licensing courses are for potential professionals, there are other safety courses worth taking endorsed by the American Sailing Association.

Most local rental marinas require that renters have passed the basic ASA 101 - Basic Keelboat course prior to taking one of their boats out on the bay.


Sailing safety is literally life and death. There has been an upward trend in accidents prompting the State of California to step in. Very few boaters want to see that, but safety is quite literally everyone's concern.

As the numbers come back after the new law's enforcement, check this space to see if there were any consequences of licensing boat operators in 2021 and beyond.

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I write articles focused on helping others break out of their 9-5 mindset. This involves side hustles, mindset, motivation, hands on practical tips, case studies, 30 day challeneges, and other related content. It's a blast.

San Diego, CA

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