The state of Oregon is one of the only three states of the contiguous United States to have a coastline on the Pacific Ocean.

It is also one of the most geographically diverse states. Oregon’s landscape is marked by rain forest in the Coast Range to barren desert in the southeast. The state also features high desert and volcanic rock formations.

Moreover, the Beaver State has abundant bodies of water. This is not surprising as the state’s lowest point is the sea level of the Pacific Ocean along the Oregon Coast.


Boating in Oregon


Washington and southeast Alaska are the locations that first come to mind when people think of boating in the Pacific Northwest. This makes a lot of sense since both have abundant inland seas.

What most people do not know is that Oregon also features a lot of excellent boating opportunities. The best lakes in the state are at 5,000 feet altitude or higher–some even formed as extinct volcanoes.

For boating enthusiasts, this could mean difficult boat transport. However, this could also mean unspoiled location and isolated boating experience.

Among the famous boating location is the Columbia River. Aside from the opportunity to follow the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, this large river can accommodate almost all kinds of boating. This includes stand-up paddle boards, ski boats, freighters, sailboats, and fishing trawlers.

However, you cannot go on boating in Oregon as you please.


Oregon’s Statewide and Local Boating Regulations


According to the Oregon State Marine Board, all boaters who operate a motorboat with over 10 horsepower are required to finish an accredited boating safety course. In addition, qualified boaters must carry a boater education card.

The Mandatory Boater Education aims to reduce accidents, conflicts, and injuries on Oregon’s waterways. That’s because students get to learn how to operate and maintain a boat, legal requirements of boating, and what to do in case of emergencies.

What’s good about Oregon boater education is that there are various ways to complete it. This includes the following course options:

  1. Classroom courses
  2. Internet courses
  3. Equivalency exam
  4. Continuing education from U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons


Who are Qualified for a Boater Education Card?


Basically, a boater aged 12 years old and up is qualified to have a boater education card. However, there are certain age restrictions:

  • Youth aged 11 and below cannot operate a motor boat
  • Youth aged 12 and up can operate a motor boat
  • Youth aged 12 – 15 years old can operate a motor boat with less than 10 horsepower without adult supervision
  • Youth aged 12 – 15 years old who need to operate a motor boat with more than 10 horsepower should be supervised by a 16-year-old adult who has a boater education guide.
  • Youth aged 12 – 15 years old who need to operate a personal watercraft (PWC) should be supervised by an 18-year-old adult who has a boater education card.
  • A person aged 16 years old and up must have a boater education card to operate powerboat (including PWC) with more than 10 horsepower.


Who is Exempted From Getting a Boater Education Card?


While age is not an exemption, there are some criteria that may exempt you from getting a boater education card:

  • Out-of-state and foreign visitors who will be boating in Oregon for less than 60 days
  • Out-of-state and foreign visitors with a boater education card from another state
  • Boaters, guides, and barge operators with a current Coast Guard Boat Operator License
  • Boaters with current commercial fishing license and will conduct recreational operation
  • Non-certified adult who is supervised by a person 16 years old and up who has a boater education card
  • Non-certified adult operating a PWC and is supervised by a person 18 years old and up who has boater education card
  • Boat buyers with temporary certificate of number and not exceeding 60 days
  • Boat renters who complete a watercraft rental safety checklist

Application for Oregon’s boater education card is available through the RegLine Page, and costs $10. It is permanent and no renewal is necessary. However, an $8 replacement fee is required in case you card is stolen or lost.

In addition to the mention statewide and local regulations, OSMB also released a guide to fun boating in the state.


Relax, Enjoy, and Share the Oregon Waterways


Similar to many outdoor recreations, boating can be an exhilarating experience. Needless to say, Oregon has a lot of places that you can explore and enjoy.

Your registration dollars allows the state to help you discover the diverse waterways of Oregon, enjoy boating in a safe environment, and be educated with waterway safety and regulations.

That’s why it is important to exercise courtesy and respect to have a great boating experience.