Rec center offers two-week boating education course

Jessie Marks

If students’ summer plans include operating a boat on the Ohio waterways, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center is offering an Ohio Boating Education Course that will help them get their feet wet.

Ohio law requires anyone born after January 1, 1982 to complete a boating education course or proficiency exam before operating boats with engines powered by 10 horsepower or more. The Ohio Division of Watercraft Web site says boaters not in compliance with this regulation are subject to a $250 fine or 30 days in jail.

The rec center is offering a state-approved Ohio Boating Education Course today and June 25. The cost to students for the two-part course is $15 and attendance is required both days.

During the two sessions, participants will learn nautical terminology, safe operating procedures and navigational laws from both a certified instructor and officers from the Ohio Division of Watercraft. Course participants must score at least 70 percent on a knowledge exam to successfully complete the course. Once participants earn the certification, renewal is not required.

By law, the course is only mandatory for those born after the cutoff date, but it is valuable to veteran boaters as well, said Dave Herpy, outdoor adventure and camp coordinator at the Student Recreation and Wellness center.

“You would be amazed at how much you learn in this course,” he said. “It’s not just for beginners or people that are already grandfathered in or people that are required by law to take the course. It’s really for anybody that is into boating.”

The center is currently the only location in Portage County teaching the Boating Education Course for the remainder of summer.

“Now is the chance if you want to get this certification,” Herpy said. “We’re the only course in Portage County in the next six months.”

The rec center offered the Ohio Boating Education Course in previous years but made improvements to the course in 2008 with a $25,000 grant from the Ohio Division of Watercraft. The grant money was used to purchase new equipment, teaching tools and audio-visual aids such as lights and buoys.

This course also qualifies boaters who plan to cross state lines because it meets the requirements of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

“All the states in the U.S. have divisions of watercraft and all follow a certain curriculum in their boating education courses,” Herpy said. “If you take the Ohio boating education course and get your certificate that is good in 48 of the 50 states.”

In addition to increased boating awareness, participation in the course has a financial benefit as well. The Ohio Insurance Institute Web site says most Ohio insurers offer 5 to 15 percent insurance discounts to boaters who successfully complete the course. These discounts vary by insurer and type of watercraft.

To register for the Ohio Boating Education Course, call (330) 672-4REC or register online at

Contact student recreation and wellness reporter Jessie Marks [email protected].