California’s waters can get crowded. Just ask any sportfishing captain chasing yellowfin these days. The sportfishing fleet electronics and chumming only inspires private boaters to shadow them. A few of the sportfishers have been known to try and “muscle” private boaters off a spot.
Private boaters in California waters have few requirements to operate a boat: other than a current registration and properly displayed hull ID, a fire extinguisher, life vests, and a life ring aboard. No driver’s license is needed, no insurance is required. Most boating rules in California are specific to each waterway; from speed and distance to closed areas and angling rules. Operating a vessel while intoxicated will incur a DUI charge as stiff as if you were on the road, though spotting an intoxicated operator is tough.
There is a Coast Guard–approved, in-depth boating course that can be taken online or in person: America’s Boating Course. The instruction will be held in a classroom and in the water at the Southwestern Yacht Club this Friday and Saturday; $55 for members and $65 for nonmembers. The two-day certification course covers topics from introduction to boating, boating law and navigation, to specifics on hunting, skiing, and fishing.