This page helps you find answers to questions like: Do I need a Boater Card? Certifications? USCG License? What's the difference? Which do you need?
Also, if you want training leading to a certification, from and instructor who has been evaluated on-the-water as a qualified instructor... what are your choices.
Finally, a link at the bottom of the page to the only FREE online boating safety course approved by the WA State Park and Recreation Commission.
Info on WA state boating laws are available here: https://boat.wa.gov/regulations.asp Many recreational boaters in Washington are required to complete an approved boating safety education course and carry a Washington State Boater Education Card. Card is valid for your lifetime and meets requirements for recreational boating in Canada and many other states.
You can learn to sail or powerboat without getting a training certification. But certified instructors from these organizations have been assessed on-the-water to national standards for both boating and teaching skills. Earning a certification can lower your insurance, help you to charter a boat, and give you (and others) confidence in the quality, depth and breadth of your knowledge and skills.
A US Coast Guard Captain's License is a requirement for carrying paying guests on your boat, or being paid as a boating instructor. Obtaining a license includes detailed written examination of knowledge, and documenting the number of days you've been on a boat... but no on-the-water skills assessment. For more info, suggest you talk to Skip, Jan at Flagship:
Progressive sailing certifications from basic to bareboat chartering and offshore. Will not cross-certify with the American Sailing Association. Local US Sailing schools include Windworks Sailing, the Center for Wooden Boats, and Sail Sand Point. Click logo above for more info.
"To operate a motor driven boat of 15 horsepower or greater, a person must be at least twelve years of age or older and complete a boating safety course that is accepted by Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission" (more info on site). The BoatUS Foundation's Online Course is the only FREE Online Boating Safety Course approved by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
If you have a certification showing you've passed a NASBLA-approved course, you can use this form to apply for a WA state Boater Education Card.