Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Certification Final Exam

To take the final exam online: 

This is the quickest way to receive your documents. You will also know right away whether you have passed or failed.

If you cannot take the final exam online, you can print and mail this exam. This option is much slower than taking the final exam online .

INSTRUCTIONS After you have completed the Chapter Review Quizzes, print this exam . The exam is designed to test your understanding of boating and safety laws. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions. Read each statement carefully. On the answer sheet that appears at the end of the questions, place a circle around the letter of the answer which best completes the statement. Each question has only one correct answer. Read all the answers and choose the most complete correct answer.

1. Type II “Near-shore Buoyant Vests”

a) always turn an unconscious wearer face-up
b) are favored for water sports.
c) have at least 15.5 pounds of buoyancy in the adult size.
d) include wearable cushions.

2. Type III “Flotation Aid” life preservers

a) always turn an unconscious wearer face-up.
b) are favored for water sports.
c) have at least 22 pounds of buoyancy in the adult size.
d) include throwable cushions.

3. A Type IV buoyant flotation device:

a) must offer immediate access.
b) must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
c) should be strapped over the back like a saddle.
d) both a) and b).

4. What must a boatÂ’s capacity plate show?

a) The most horsepower allowed.
b) The most weight allowed aboard the boat.
c) The minimum battery current needed to start the motor.
d) Just a) and b) are true.

5. Pyrotechnic Visual Distress Signals:

a) must be approved by U.S. Coast Guard.
b) are best used only if another vessel is in sight.
c) should be fired downwind or held over the leeward side of the boat.
d) all of the above.

6. The blower for an inboard gasoline motor:

a) should run 4 minutes before the motor is started.
b) should be turned on right after the motor is started.
c) must be on whenever the motor is running.
d) is not needed if you smell no fumes.

7. Carburetor backfire flame arrestors

a) are required on all boats.
b) are attached to the fuel tank.
c) reduce the chance of a fire.
d) need no maintenance.

8. Most boat explosions and fires occur

a) during or right after fueling.
b) during thunderstorms.
c) after dark.
d) in the boatÂ’s bow.

9. How should you use a fire extinguisher?

a) Get 1 to 2 feet from the flames.
b) Make short sweeps across the top of the flames.
c) Make sweeps of one-half second each along the base of the flames.
d) Make one long sweep aimed at the top of the flames.

10. What does the letter “B” on a Class B fire extinguisher indicate?

a) It is to be used on Class B boats.
b) The amount of extinguishant in it.
c) It is best for flammable liquids.
d) It is best for electrical fires.

11. What is the marking on “BOATS EXCLUSION AREA” markers in the Uniform State Waterways Marking System?

a) An orange diamond with a circle in it.
b) An orange triangle.
c) An orange diamond with a cross in it
d) An orange triangle with a “D” in it.

12. Most boating deaths result from

a) falling out of a small open boat.
b) collisions between boats.
c) boats being swamped.
d) fires and explosions.

13. In the Nav Rules, what must a Give-Way boat do?

a) Stop NOW.
b) Take early and substantial action to avoid the other boat.
c) Maintain course and speed
d) Sound his horn three times.

14. In the Nav Rules,

a) Overtaking boats are always ‘Give-Way’ boats.
b) Motoring boats are always ‘Give-Way’ boats.
c) Sailing boats are always ‘Stand-On’ boats.
d) Personal watercraft are always ‘Give-Way’ boats.

15. In the Nav Rules, what is a Motoring boatÂ’s danger zone?

a) Dead ahead and to starboard
b) Dead ahead and to port.
c) Dead ahead.
d) Dead astern.

16. In the Nav Rules, what does a solid green light moving on the water at night indicate?

a) The port side of a boat thatÂ’s Motoring.
b) The starboard side of` a boat thatÂ’s Sailing.
c) The port side of a boat thatÂ’s Sailing.
d) The stern of a boat thatÂ’s Motoring.

17. What equipment needs U.S. Coast Guard approval?

a) motors
b) life preservers and fire extinguishers
c) electrical equipment and batteries
d) anchors and dock lines

18. If you are in a stable boat and a storm is near,

a) close up the boat and duck into the lee of land for wind and wave protection, if youÂ’re sure you will make it.
b) close up the boat and head into wind and waves.
c) consider a), then b).
d) sound the danger signal.

19. Drinking too much alcohol while operating a boat

a) reduces coordination and balance.
b) increases risk-taking.
c) reduces judgment.
d) all of the above.

20. You should always watch for changes in the weather while boating. Most changes come from the

a) West.
b) East.
c) South.
d) North.

21. Regulatory Buoys in the Uniform State Waterway Marking System are recognized by:

a) their solid orange color.
b) their sizes.
c) the horizontal orange bands at the top and bottom.
d) the red and green lights on top.

22. Being a courteous boater includes:

a) not throwing litter into the water.
b) keeping noise to a minimum at night.
c) watching your wake so as not to cause damage to other vessels or to shorelines.
d) all three of the above.

23. When boarding a small boat from a dock or low pier:

a) step onto the bow of the boat.
b) step into the center of the boat.
c) step onto a side of the boat.
d) jump into the boat.

24. The necessary length of a boat trailer is determined by:

a) the length of the car towing it.
b) the length of the boat.
c) the beam (width) of the boat.
d) state law.

25. A boat is less stable and more likely to capsize when:

a) overloaded or overpowered.
b) its load is kept low and evenly distributed.
c) empty.
d) in deep water.

26. Planing hulls:

a) are designed to skim on top of the water.
b) require very little power to plow through the water.
c) are often found on very large trawler yachts.
d) cannot go very fast.

27. An example of negligent or reckless operation would be:

a) excessive speed in a congested area.
b) operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
c) operating in a swimming area with bathers present.
d) all three of the above.

28. If a boat capsizes:

a) grab a PFD and swim to the nearest shore.
b) grab a PFD, swim to the boat, and stay with the boat.
c) grab a PFD and yell until help arrives.
d) swim away from the boat as quickly as possible.

29. If you see something off the port beam, you are seeing something:

a) straight out from the middle of the vessel on the left side.
b) straight ahead of the vessel.
c) straight out from the middle of the vessel on the right side.
d) directly behind the vessel.

30. You must always have the following required equipment on your vessel:

a) a Coast Guard approved PFD for each person on board.
b) paddles or oars.
c) tool kit and spare parts.
d) all of the above.

31. Under the Lateral Buoyage System, you can tell which side of the channel a buoy is on by its:

a) color.
b) shape(unlighted buoys)
c) number.
d) all the above.

32. The following vessels always have the right-of-way:

a) sailboats.
b) sailboats using motors.
c) motorboats over 26 feet in length.
d) large ships in narrow channels.

33. To avoid a collision:

a) keep a sharp lookout for others.
b) know and follow the rules of the road.
c) be courteous.
d) all three of the above.

34. In poor visibility, motorboat operators, while making way, must sound on the horn every two minutes:

a) one prolonged blast plus two short blasts.
b) two prolonged blasts.
c) one prolonged blast.
d) one prolonged blast plus three short blasts.

35. Fire extinguishers are classified, according to the type and size fire they can put out, by:

a) color of the containers.
b) size of the containers.
c) letters and numbers.
d) all of the above.

36. Before you buy a PFD, you should make sure that:

a) its color matches your boat.
b) its color contrasts with the color of your boat and it will be seen.
c) it is Coast Guard approved.
d) you donÂ’t have to make sure of anything; all PFDs are the same.

37. The skipper of a boat is responsible for:

a) the safety of all guests.
b) the boat.
c) any damage the boatÂ’s wake may cause.
d) all three of the above.

38. Jet drives are usually found on:

a) luxury yachts.
b) PWCs.
c) houseboats.
d) displacement vessels.

39. The condition in which the human body loses heat faster than it can be produced is called:

a) shock.
b) suffocation.
c) hypothermia.
d) dry rot.

40. A vessel being overtaken must:

a) maintain course and slow down.
b) move to port.
c) hold course and speed.
d) move to starboard.

41. When you are in a lock system you should:

a) shut off the motor.
b) hang boat fenders on both sides of the boat.
c) follow the lock attendantÂ’s instructions.
d) all of the above.

42. Water skiers should always be able to control the actions of the boat through:

a) yelling.
b) foot signals.
c) hand signals
d) large signs.

43. A sailboat usually has the right of way over a motorboat except:

a) when it yields to commercial vessels in narrow channels.
b) when the sailboat is the overtaking boat.
c) when it is under power.
d) all the above.

44. The operator of a boat involved in an accident must report the accident immediately if:

a) a person dies.
b) a person loses consciousness or receives medical treatment beyond first aid.
c) property damage is more than $500.
d) any of the above.

45. A buoy flying a red flag with a white diagonal stripe indicates:

a) first leg of a sailing race course.
b) divers down – steer clear by at least 100 feet.
c) ski slalom course – steer well clear.
d) hatchery fish in area – proceed slowly.

46. You should not operate around low head dams because:

a) the calm water you see can be deceiving and treacherous.
b) the water above the dam is flowing and could carry you into and over it.
c) the turbulence near the face of the dam can pull you under and not allow you to come to the top.
d) all of the above.

47. If a person falls overboard, you should:

a) turn on your running lights to warn others
b) toss a life saving device to the person.
c) immediately speed the boat up so the person will not float away too far.
d) report the accident immediately.

48. When going upstream or entering a channel from seaward:

a) the red buoys are on the port (left) side.
b) remember red, right, returning.
c) stay close to shore to avoid other craft.
d) keep the black or green buoys on the starboard (right] side.

49. You should leave a copy of your float plan with

a) the Coast Guard.
b) the state police.
c) a close friend or relative.
d) the President.

50. Navigation lights on pleasure boats are restricted to colors that are:

a) red, green, and white only.
b) white only.
c) red and green only.
d) red, blue, green, and white only.

Basic Boating Course Final Exam Answer Sheet

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2) a b c d 12) a b c d 22) a b c d 32) a b c d 42) a b c d
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5) a b c d 15) a b c d 25) a b c d 35) a b c d 45) a b c d
6) a b c d 16) a b c d 26) a b c d 36) a b c d 46) a b c d
7) a b c d 17) a b c d 27) a b c d 37) a b c d 47) a b c d
8) a b c d 18) a b c d 28) a b c d 38) a b c d 48) a b c d
9) a b c d 19) a b c d 29) a b c d 39) a b c d 49) a b c d
10) a b c d 20) a b c d 30) a b c d 40) a b c d 50) a b c d

Please complete the following information so that we may process your Boating Safety ID Card and Certificate. The information is used for processing and to keep records of persons who have completed the course. It will not be used for any other purpose.

Full Name:_______________________________________________
City, State, Zip____________________________________________
email: ________________________________ 


I hereby pledge and certify, by my signature below, that I have successfully completed all required Chapter review exams. Additionally, I certify that I have successfully completed the State specific exam (if available) for the State in which I intend to operate a vessel. Further, I certify that I am the person whose name is represented on this final examination and all answers are given as a representation of my knowledge of the material provided in the Nautical Know How course and that all questions have been answered without assistance from others. If I am a person under the age of 18 years of age, I certify that this final exam was proctored by a responsible adult who has acknowledged same by their signature as a witness to this pledge.

Signature:_____________________ Signature of Witness:___________________________
Date: ________________________ Date: _________ 
Phone #: ______________________

Congratulations on completing the Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Certification final exam. Please mail the answer sheet (the information in this table), along with a postage and handling fee of $15.00 to:

Nautical Know How, Inc.
51 N. 3rd St. #240, Philadelphia, PA 19106

If you have questions: email: [email protected]

If you have completed all of the Chapter Review Quizzes, your State quiz (if available) and you pass the final exam with a score of at least 80%, your ID Card and Certificate should arrive in approximately two weeks.

Thanks . . . and we hope you enjoyed the course! Your comments and suggestions are, as always, greatly appreciated.

Kansas Basic Boating Safety Course

kansas.gif (7849 bytes)This chapter contains information on Kansas Boating Regulations that are in addition to the Federal Requirements covered in the Basic Boating Course. If you have not reviewed the course material, please do so now. All Federal Requirements in the basic boating course apply to Kansas; this section lists Kansas Boating Requirements that are above and beyond Federal Requirements.

o receive your Kansas Boating Safety Certificate, complete chapters 3 through 9 in the Basic Boating Course, this chapter on Kansas state-specific information and its review quiz, and the final exam. Please make sure you have completed all chapter review quizzes before taking the final.


Age Restrictions:

Anyone born after January 1, 1989 must successfully complete a boating safety course in order to operate a motorboat or sailboat. Exemptions from this requirement include persons born before January 1, 1989, persons 21 years of age or older, and persons operating a motorboat or sailboat under the direct, audible supervision of an individual at least 18 years of age who possesses a boating safety certificate or who is exempt from the boating safety certificate requirements.

Lifejackets – Personal Flotation Devices:

Every person under 13 years of age must wear a USCG approved PFD when onboard a vessel.

PWC operators and passengers must wear an approved Type I, II, III or V PFD.

Sound Signalling Device – Bell

In Kansas, all boats 26′ and up must carry a bell.

Prohibited Operation:

It is illegal to operate a vessel carrying passengers, cargo or equipment beyond its safe carrying capacity. It is also illegal to operate a boat with more power than its safe power capacity.

It is illegal to operate a boat close to swimming areas, moored boats, vessels engaged in fishing, servicing buoys or markings, or similar activities, without reducing speed. Speed of operation should be slow enough to prevent wash or wake from causing damage or unnecessary inconvenience to others.

No person shall operate any motorboat or vessel, or manipulate any water skis, surfboard or similar device while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

No person shall operate or moor a vessel within an area that is marked by buoys or other distinguishing device as a bathing or swimming area, or as an all-boats-prohibited area. Further, no person shall operate a boat for purposes other than fishing or hunting in areas marked by buoys or otherwise designated as fishing or hunting areas.

It is illegal to operate, or give permission to operate, a vessel that is not properly equipped with safety devices as required by law and regulation.

It is illegal to operate a boat in a negligent manner which is failure to exercise the degree of care necessary to prevent endangering another person or their property. Some examples include bow riding, excessive speed, and operating too close to another boat.

Restricted Operation:

Some waterways limit boat size and use. Check local regulations before leaving. Also check to determine whether a launch permit is required.


It is illegal in the state of Kansas to operate a motorboat without an effective muffling system.

Navigation Rules:

The State of Kansas adopts and enforces all Federally mandated boating safety laws.

Every vessel operating in the State of Kansas shall carry and use safety equipment in accordance with U. S. Coast Guard requirements as specified in the Code of Federal Regulations. Additionally, every vessel shall display the lights and shapes required by the navigation rules. See the Basic Boating Course for these requirements.

Diving, Snorkeling or Spearfishing:

When diving outside a designated swimming area, all divers shall display a free-flying, 21 inch square minimum, white diagonal stripe on a red background divers-down flag in the area in which the diving occurs. Divers shall stay within 100 feet of the divers-down flag on rivers, inlets and navigation channels.

A rigid replica of the Alpha flag may be displayed by vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver while engaged in diving operations.

Boaters should stay at least 100 feet away from a diver-down flag. In bays and open waters, stay at least 300 feet away.

Divers shall not, except in case of emergency, display the divers-down flag in an area which would constitute a navigational hazard.

Personal Watercraft:

You must be 16 to operate a personal watercraft alone. Operators 12 to 15 who successfully complete an approved boating safety course may also operate alone.

Each person on a Personal Watercraft (PWC) shall wear a Coast Guard approved PFD. Additionally, the operator must wear a lanyard type cut off switch provided by the manufacturer which will shut off the PWC should the operator fall off.

The operator of a Personal Watercraft shall operate in a reasonable and prudent manner. This includes being aware of other boats in the operating area, awareness of environmental concerns and respecting the rights of shoreline property owners and campers. The PWC operator should not follow other boats closely and should not jump the wake of other boats.

Water Skiing:

No person shall tow a person on water skis, aquaplane or similar device without an observer at least twelve years old aboard. A wide-angle rear view mirror may be used instead of the observer. 

In addition each person engaged in water skiing or aquaplaning shall wear a U. S. Coast Guard approved PFD or have an additional approved device onboard.

Water skiing is legal only between the hours of one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.

Personal watercraft operators shall not tow any person unless the watercraft is designed to accommodate more than one person.

Races and Regattas

Kansas law requires a permit to hold a race, regatta or other marine event. Check with state authorities in advance to obtain proper authorization.

Environmental Concerns

Human sewage from boats is a source of pollution that poses environmental and health problems. It is unlawful to place, leave or discharge sewage into the waters of Kansas. All boats with a marine sanitation device shall be in compliance with all state and federal requirements.

Accident Reporting:

If you are involved in a boating accident, you must assist other people involved in the accident. Notify local law enforcement officers by the quickest means available.

“boating accident” includes, but is not limited to, capsizing, collision, foundering, flooding, fire, explosion and the disappearance of a vessel other than by theft. Any accident involving death, disappearance or personal injury must be reported within 48 hours. An accident involving damage greater than $2000 must be reported within five days.

Boating accident forms are available from the Kansas Wildlife and Parks, Law Enforcement Division, 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, KS 67124 or any Conservation Officer.

Boating While Intoxicated:

It is illegal to operate any boat while under the influence of alcohol (blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or more) or drugs. There is a zero tolerance law for anyone under 21 years of age.

By operating on Kansas waterways, you are deemed to have given consent to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs. Refusal to submit to a test will result in loss of boating privileges for three months, in addition to other penalties prescribed by law.

Conviction of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs in punishable by fine and/or imprisonment and the loss of boating privileges. Successful completion of a boating safety course may also be required.

Other safety items to be aware of:

How to Avoid Ship-to-Shore Power Electrocution
How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


All vessels principally operated on the waters of Kansas must be registered and numbered in Kansas. All boats powered by gasoline, diesel, electric motor or sail must be registered – including sailboards and personal watercraft. Non-residents operating boats that are properly registered in another state may use their boats in Kansas for up to 60 consecutive days without registering in Kansas.

You can obtain a registration application from your marine dealer, the county clerk’s office or the nearest Wildlife and Parks office. The registration shall be renewed every three years.

The certificate of number should be onboard when operating. The registration number and decal are required to be permanently attached to the boat hull as shown below. The numbers should be at least 3 inches tall, read from left to right, and be a contrasting color. The registration decal must be displayed throughout the three year registration period. A new decal will be issued when registration is renewed.

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If a boat is lost or stolen, the owner is required to notify the Wildlife and Parks department within 15 days.

Using the Net to “Boat Safe”

Even the most recent “Newbie” to the Internet has discovered that there is a tremendous amount of information available. The problem is sorting through it and identifying what is useful and of value. We have collected some safety links for recreational boaters that you can access from any page by clicking on l.gif (153 bytes) Safety Links.

Why would I need all this information, you might ask? Assume the following scenario and perhaps it will be clear.

  • You find the boat of your dreams but the chrome piece which identifies the manufacturer is missing. How do you find the manufacturer?

  • Even though the boat looks in good shape, how can you find out if there is an inherent problem with this particular make or model?

  • You decide to purchase the boat and transport it by water back to an unfamiliar port in South Florida. Where can you view a chart for the area and order one to have with you? 

  • Now that you have your chart in hand, you note that the date the chart was produced was Aug 5/95. What if things have changed since then, how can you find out? 

  • Now that you have planned your trip, you decide that you should check the general weather and marine advisories. How can you do that?

  • You next decide that you should also check the marine weather observations closest to your destination. How do you do that? 

  • What about the tide at the Inlet that you will be entering? Or at your slip? Will there be enough water at the time of your arrival to enter and dock your boat? 

Let’s start by identifying the manufacturer of the boat that you are potentially going to purchase. How to use the USCG Manuf. ID Code (MIC)

Hull Designs And Uses

Boat designs encompass a vast range depending on the specific use for which the boat is planned. Boats are basically designed in two categories: displacement and planing.Sailing vessel

Displacement vessels are designed to move through the water with a minimum of propulsion. They will have a large underwater profile and will ride comfortably although slowly. Trawlers and large sailing vessels are displacement vessels.



Planing vessels, however, are designed to actually rise up and ride on top of the water when power is applied.

Planing vessel

They require considerably more horsepower to get the boat up but they can attain much higher speeds from the reduced friction of moving on top of the water rather than through the water.


The majority of recreational boats in the United States are trailered to and from the water. Your boat trailer is only one part of the entire boating package which includes the boat, trailer, hitch and towing vehicle. Neglecting the trailer’s maintenance can result in damage to your boat, your towing vehicle or both.

The trailer must have a load capacity adequate to carry the boat, motor, fuel and all equipment which may be carried in the boat as it is trailered. By law, trailers are classified by the maximum amount they may weigh when fully loaded. It is highly suggested that you never exceed 85% of a trailer’s total capacity.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

Class 1 – GVWR to 2000 lbs. (suggest 1700)
Class 2 – GVWR to 3500 lbs. (suggest 2975)
Class 3 – GVWR to 5000 lbs. (suggest 4250)
Class 4 – GVWR +  5000 lbs. (suggest 85%)

Your trailer will also have a Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) which is used to describe the minimum tire rating needed for that load. It must be at least equal to the GVWR.

All these numbers, plus trailer identification number, are on a capacity plate.

Trailer capacity plate

Another very important item to consider is the towing vehicle. It also must meet certain performance standards such as engine power, engine cooling, transmission cooling, wiring, brakes, battery, suspension, alternator, axle ratio, tires, and wheels in order to tow the boat and trailer. You should consult your dealer for advice. Each tow vehicle also has a maximum weight that it may pull by law. Again, it is suggested that you not pull more than 85% of the vehicle’s limit.

The trailer is attached to the towing vehicle by a trailer hitch. A socket on the front of the trailer drops over a ball on the back of the hitch and then locks down. These two parts must match in size. The ball size is determined by the class of trailer. The hitch should be permanently attached to the towing vehicle and should handle the load you are attempting to pull. Bumper hitches (attached to bumper only) are illegal in some states and not recommended.

In addition to the trailer’s capacity weight you must also consider “tongue weight.” The weight of the trailer tongue which attaches to the towing vehicle should not be more than five to fifteen percent of the total weight of the rig. Adjusting the tongue weight by moving the balance point of the trailer makes the tow more stable. If the tongue weight is too low, the trailer will fishtail at high speed. You should shift weight forward to increase the tongue weight. If the tongue weight is too high, it will drag down the rear of the tow vehicle and make steering difficult.

Too much weight on the rear of the trailer will cause the trailer to fishtail and may reduce traction or lift the rear wheels of the tow vehicle off the ground. Too much weight on the hitch will cause the rear wheels of the tow vehicle to drag and may make steering more difficult.

Rollers and/or pads are used to support the boat on the trailer. There should be sufficient support so as not to allow the boat to warp. You should make sure that all support surfaces are in contact with the boat at all times. Tie down straps should be used to secure the boat to the trailer both fore and aft. In addition, all fuel tanks and other equipment inside the boat should be secured so that its weight does not shift during towing.


Preparing to tow safely

  • Drain accumulated water from the boat’s bilge.
  • Lower the tongue socket onto the ball on the trailer hitch and lock together securely.
  • Connect trailer lights to towing vehicle and check turn signals, brake lights and backup lights.
  • Attach safety chains from trailer to tow vehicle securely in a criss-cross fashion.
  • Check tie-down straps and winch and cable.
  • Make sure wheel bearings run free and are properly lubricated.
  • Check tire pressure, lug nuts and test brakes.
  • Make sure to stow drain plug in the boat so any remaining water can drain and it is there when you get to the ramp.
  • Don’t forget the keys to the boat.

Road Handling

The weight that you are trailing will make your towing vehicle less responsive in many respects. Speeding up, slowing down and all maneuvers will require more time to accomplish. Leave more room between you and a vehicle in front of you to make sure you can stop should they brake suddenly.

Make sure your side view mirrors are large enough to provide an unobstructed rear view on both sides of the vehicle.

Remember that the turning radius is much greater. Curbs and barriers must be given a wide berth when turning corners. Backing a trailer can be somewhat tricky but with practice you should be able to accomplish the task in a minimum amount of time. The trailer will turn in the opposite direction of the car; take it slowly and try to avoid oversteering. Prior to operating on the open road, practice turning, backing up, etc. on a level, empty parking lot.


  • 1. Do initial launch preparations away from the ramp so as not to impede launching for others.
  • 2. Raise the outdrive or motor, remove the support bracket and install the drain plug.
  • 3. Disconnect the trailer wiring. Remove tie down straps and again check the drain plug.
  • 4. Make any equipment adjustments necessary and check the drain plug.
  • 5. Connect the fuel tank, check fluid levels and check the drain plug.
  • 6. Drive to the ramp and back the boat and trailer down the ramp, keeping the tow vehicle’s wheels out of the water.
  • 7. Set the emergency brake, shift into Park, and block the wheels.
  • 8. Someone should get aboard the boat, turn on the blower, lower the motor, look for water entering the boat, sniff the bilge and start the motor.
  • 9. Make sure you have attached a bow line to the boat, then release the winch and disconnect the winch line.
  • 10. You should be able to launch the boat with a slight shove or by backing the boat off the trailer under power.
  • 11. Return the towing vehicle to the parking lot as soon as the boat is launched so the next person in line may proceed.
  • 12. Move the boat to an area away from the ramp to load additional equipment and passengers.


The steps for retrieving the boat are essentially the reverse of launching and you should keep in mind being courteous of others launching and retrieving.

  • 1. Unload the boat away from the ramp if possible.
  • 2. Back the trailer into the water, again keeping the tires of the tow vehicle at waters edge, not in the water.
  • 3. Maneuver the boat carefully onto the submerged trailer, attach a bow line and shut off the engine prior to raising it.
  • 4. Winch the boat onto the trailer and secure it.
  • 5. Drive the trailer and boat out of the ramp for cleanup, reloading, securing equipment and safety check.
  • 6. Remove the drain plug to allow water to drain from the bilge.

Boat Capacity Plate

Chapter III – The BoatSection 7 – Boat Capacity Plate

Boat Capacity Plate

Boat builders must comply with Federal law by putting a Capacity Plate in sight of the helm (steering area) on motorized boats less than 20 feet in length. This plate displays three important items: the maximum weight of persons on board in pounds, the maximum carrying weight of the vessel in pounds and the maximum horsepower recommended for the boat.

boating safety course Capacity Plate

Should you own a boat which was built prior to the Federal law mandating capacity plates or have a homemade boat, the following formulas can be used to determine safe loading capacity.

Formulas for Safe Loading

Horsepower Capacity
for small, flat-bottom boats:
Multiply boat length (ft) times transom width (ft)
Person Capacity:
Average weight per person is 150 lbs.

If answer is:
35 or less

Maximum HP is:

(Boat length
Boat width)

Number of

Note: for flat bottom, hard chine boats, with an answer of 52 or less, reduce one increment (e.g. 5 to 3) Boat length and width are measured in feet. Round fractions down to next lower number.

Always check the capacity plate to make sure you are not overloading or over-powering the vessel. A motor larger than recommended will make the stern too heavy and can cause the boat to flip. The transom will ride too low in the water and you could be swamped by your own wake or a passing boat’s wake. Your boat will not sit properly in the water and will be difficult to handle.

Too many people (and/or gear) will also cause the boat to become unstable. Always balance the load so that your vessel maintains proper trim. Too much weight to one side or the other will cause the boat to list and increase the chance of taking on water. Too much weight in the bow causes the vessel to plow through the water and too much weight in the stern will create a large wake. All of these situations make the vessel difficult to handle and susceptible to swamping.

Remember that the capacity plate limits are suitable for normal operating conditions. In rough seas, bad weather or when operating in congested areas you will want to carry a lighter load.

Rules of the Road

There are two sets of navigation rules; inland and international. A nautical chart will show you the demarcation lines where the rules change from international to inland and vice versa. In general, these demarcation lines follow the coastline and cross inlets and bays. On the seaward side of the demarcation lines international rules apply. We will concentrate on the inland rules, since most of your recreational boating will occur on the landward side of the demarcation lines.

The Nav Rules are written with the understanding that not all boats can maneuver with the same ease. Therefore, Rule 18 states that certain vessels have the right-of-way over other vessels by virtue of their ability to maneuver.

A power driven vessel underway must keep out of the way of the following:

    • A sailing vessel, under sail only, and vessels propelled by oars or paddles. (Note: when a sailboat has its motor running, it is considered a power driven vessel).
    • A vessel engaged in fishing, whose fishing equipment restricts its maneuverability. This does not include a sport fisher or party boat and generally means a commercial fishing vessel.
    • A vessel with restricted maneuverability such as a dredge or tow boat, a boat engaged in work that restricts it to a certain area, or a vessel transferring supplies to another vessel.
    • A vessel not under command – broken down.

Each of these vessels must keep out of the way of the next vessel in the hierarchy. For example, a sailboat must keep out of the way of a vessel engaged in fishing, which in turn must keep out of the way of a vessel with restricted maneuverability. And everyone must keep out of the way of a vessel not under command.

When two power driven vessels are in sight of one another and the possibility of collision exists, one vessel is designated by the rules as the stand-on vessel and the other is designated as the give-way vessel. The stand-on vessel, the boat with the right of way, should maintain its course and speed. The give-way vessel must take early and substantial action to avoid collision. If it becomes apparent that the actions taken (or not taken) by the give-way vessel are dangerous or insufficient, the stand-on vessel must act to avoid collision.

Chapter 3 Review Quiz

You have, hopefully, just finished reading Chapter 3 – The Boat. If you are ready to take the review exam, click the button below. If you have trouble with the quiz, please review the chapter and try again. You need to score at least 70% on the chapter review quizzes in order to take the final exam. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Propulsion Requirements

Each vessel, depending on its design and intended use, will require different types of propulsion. Most recreational vessels in the United States today use outboard engines and are less than twenty feet in length.

outbd.gif (6795 bytes)Outboard – Outboard motors are popular and quite useful on smaller boats. They are light and powerful and modern outboards are extremely quiet. The outboard provides a completely self-contained propulsion system from engine to transmission to shaft and propeller. They are most often mounted directly on the transom of the boat, however, you may find boat designs incorporating a motor well or bracket on which the motor mounts. The entire motor swivels about to provide easy steering as the turning propeller pushes the stern.

Outboards come in a large range of sizes and horsepower and can use different fuel sources. From small electric trolling motors to gasoline-and-oil-mixture two cycle engines to gasoline-only four cycle engines to diesel powered outboards, the selection is large.

io.gif (5649 bytes)Inboard/Outboard – These are also referred to as I/Os or stern drive engines. Stern drives are generally heavier than outboards. They consist of an engine mounted inboard and a lower unit attached low on the transom. This lower unit resembles the bottom part or lower unit of an outboard. The outdrive or lower unit part also swivels from side to side to provide for the steering of the boat. It can also be tilted up and down to provide boat trim while underway. I/Os come in both gasoline and diesel models and larger ones generally have more power than outboards. Because the main power supply is similar to a small automobile engine, easily accessible and more powerful, stern drives are often favored over outboards especially on larger vessels.

Inboards – These engines are most popular on vessels over twenty six feet in length. The engine, similar to the inboard/outboard, is mounted inside the vessel toward the center to give good weight distribution.

inboard.gif (10640 bytes)

The engine connects directly to a transmission out of which comes a shaft which goes through the hull of the boat as it passes through the “stuffing box”. The shaft is then attached to a propeller which turns to propel the boat. (The stuffing box is a cylinder through which the shaft passes. The shaft is surrounded by a stuffing material which when compressed between the cylinder wall and the shaft prevents excessive water from entering the boat.) Since the shaft is fixed and does not swivel from side to side, a rudder is mounted behind the shaft and propeller to deflect the flow of water to provide steering direction.

Jet Drive – These propulsion systems have the advantage of having no propeller to cause potential danger to people in the water and marine life. They are usually inboard engines that take in water which flows through a pump powered by an impeller. The water is then discharged at high pressure through a nozzle that propels the boat forward. The nozzle swivels to provide steering to the boat. Most personal watercraft use jet drives.

jet.gif (10863 bytes)

Choosing the right type of propulsion system for your boat is a very important matter. Its weight and horsepower will both have an impact on the performance of your vessel. If your vessel is underpowered its engine will work hard continually and will provide poor performance. Additionally if your vessel is overpowered it may exceed the safe operating speed that was designed for the vessel.