The fun of boating starts with safety lessons | News, Sports, Jobs


With spring’s best weather, boat owners in Mahoning Valley have spent the past few weeks getting their craft ready for water sports and other recreation in the area’s reservoirs.

But before hitting the water, boaters must complete state-mandated boating safety courses.

EDUCATION COURSES

An Ohio Boating Education course is taught by certified instructors who look at topics such as knowing your boat; pre-launch safety habits; operating safety rules; legal requirements, water sports; and nautical emergencies.

This class meets the mandatory requirements of the Ohio Boater Education Act.

One class met for eight hours Saturday at the Milton Lake Fire Department and another from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 4 in Great Lakes at Outdoor Supply, 14855 N. State Ave., Middlefield.

A test is administered at the end of the day. The course is free, but pre-registration is required by calling 330-235-0030 or 440-466-8400.

At Lake Milton, a man who works for a company that installs and repairs docks said his crews had a busy spring, warning the lake could be congested with watercraft this summer.

Brian Martin Sr., who is employed by Kelly’s Marine, says his three-man crew works all day on the lake using a pontoon-like craft. The company’s website states that it provides services to Lake Milton as well as Lake Erie, Berlin Reservoir, Lake Mohawk, Lake Tomahawk, Roaming Shores, Portage Lakes and Seneca Lake.

TRAINING GRANTS

Meanwhile, several local groups have received grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for boating safety training.

In Mahoning County, Youngstown State University received $22,154.

“Safety training provided by local grant recipients strengthens our efforts to ensure Ohioans enjoy a fun and safe boating experience,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz.

This year’s recipients include several local school districts that will be offering boating safety lessons to their students in environmental science and recreation programs for the first time, according to a news release.

The grant program also supports the local purchase of safety equipment, such as kayaks, life jackets and trailers.

Grants are funded by Ohio boaters through the Safe Waterways Fund, which includes a share of the state fuel tax, boat registration and titling fees, and funding of the US Coast Guard.

RULES ON

THE WATER

Ohio’s safety equipment requirements are based on boat type, propulsion type, boat length, boating activity, and boater’s age (with respect to mandatory wearing lifejacket). Local rules or ordinances may exist that are stricter or require additional safety equipment. It is the boater’s responsibility to be aware of these local requirements.

For more information, the ODNR offers the free Ohio Boat Operator’s Guide, a summary of boating laws and rules, which can be downloaded from the ODNR website or obtained by filling out a form on the website. . It contains information such as:

• Before sailing, your boat must be correctly titled, if necessary, and registered. A boat title is similar to an auto title. Both provide proof of ownership. Like an automobile title, boat titles are obtained from any county title office. A boat requiring a title cannot be registered until a title is issued in the name of the new owner.

Windsurf boards, kiteboards, paddle boards, and belly boats or float tubes are exempt from Ohio registration and titling laws.

No one is permitted to sell, buy or otherwise acquire any of the following without a certificate of title: outboard motor of 10 horsepower or more, watercraft 14 feet or more in length, watercraft less than 14 feet in length with a permanently affixed mechanical means of propulsion of 10 horsepower or more.

• Under Ohio law, no person shall operate or permit the operation of a vessel less than 18 feet in length with a child under age 10 on board unless the child is wearing a personal floatation device. The PFD must be wearable, US Coast Guard approved, in good working order, properly sized, and securely fastened.

Be sure to check the US Coast Guard approval label before purchasing a life jacket. Not all life jackets are suitable for all uses or for all people. The label will tell you the weight and chest size limits, as well as the age restrictions for that particular lifejacket. It will also tell you what water activities the life jacket is designed for, such as water skiing or riding a personal watercraft. Some life jackets are not designed for weak swimmers.

• No person shall use or permit the use of a personal watercraft unless each person on board the watercraft is wearing a personal flotation device. A personal watercraft is defined as a craft less than 16 feet in length, propelled by machinery and designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling on the craft.

• No one should ride or attempt to ride water skis, surfboards, inflatables, or similar devices being towed by a vessel without wearing a US Coast Guard approved wearable PFD specifically designed for water skiing.



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