New Hampshire Boating Safety Education Law
As of January 1, 2008, everyone operating a boat with greater than 25 horsepower must have a valid safe boating education certificate with them while operating in New Hampshire waters.
NH waters include all of Great Bay, large portions of the Piscataqua River and Gosport Harbor.
This law has been phased in over several years based on the age of the operator, however, 2007 was the final year of the phase-in, and in 2008 it applies to everyone, regardless of age.
Certificates from US Coast Guard Auxiliary's About Boating Safety, Boating Skills & Seamanship, and Sailing Skills and Seamanship courses are approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and the certificate you receive is valid in all states which require boater education, including New Hampshire.
Boating safety education certificates issued by the US Power Squadron are also accepted in New Hampshire.
You must carry your boating safety class certificate or wallet card with you while operating a boat. A valid ID card, such as a drivers license, is also highly recommended.
Every effort should be made to safeguard your certificates and maintain copies of any records you have proving you successfully completed the course. Before the NH law went into effect, most boater safety educators, including the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, did not maintain databases of graduates. In NH, a significant amount of boater education records were lost in flooding in 2006 and 2007.
Students who took a class more than 10 years ago would benefit from re-taking the class today.
Students in many US Coast Guard Auxiliary classes since 2003 have been offered the option to obtain boater education certificates from the state of New Hampshire. Replacements for these are available from the NH Division of Safety Services.
As far as we can tell at this time, Casco Bay Flotilla's records go back to 1981. However there may be a year or two missing. Records from 1995 to present are electronic. Over the coming years we hope to turn our paper records, from 1981 to 1994, into electronic records. If you took our course in the Portland or surrounding areas there is a good chance that we still have your records.
Students who can provide evidence of having completed one of our classes, such as a copy of the original certificate, wallet card, year they took the course along with other requested identification that would be in our records to identify you, may request replacements from the Public Education Officer. If such evidence is not available, contact the Public Education Officer and provide as much information as possible, such as the date and instructor's name. If flotilla records can be located indicating that you completed the class, a replacement can be issued.
Replacement cards and/or certificates require a $10 materials and administration fee.
State and national rules prohibit providing replacement cards if evidence of class completion can not be found.
New Hampshire initially experimented with on-line boater education exams. This practice was found to be prone to abuse, and was discontinued on January 1, 2007. Although certificates issued prior to that date are still valid, all new certificates require that a proctored exam (in person) be completed.
A self-study course is available from the State of NH, but you must still schedule an exam date with the state. The failure rate for this exam is reportedly high, and many students find it more convenient to take the class and exam together and get it over with.
Many web sites offer "NASBLA Approved" boating safety courses. Although they may cover the required material, many states (including NH) do not accept these courses. All states which have implemented boating education requirements accept US Coast Guard Auxiliary courses.