Instructors from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 42 (Northlake) will conduct three "About Boating Safely" courses in October that satisfy the new law requiring anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984 to complete a boating-safety class before operating a boat.

The classes are scheduled for Oct. 9 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Madisonville Town Hall, at Mandeville's Pontchartrain Yacht Club on Oct. 16 and at the Flotilla office in Covington on Oct 26-28 (three night classes).

Cost for each class is $30 at the door or $25 if pre-registered.

The new state law states: "No person born after January 1, 1984, shall operate a motorboat powered by a motor in excess of ten horsepower unless he has successfully completed a boating safety class approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).  A person who has completed an approved boating safety class shall be in possession of evidence of such completion when operating such a boat."

The need for this class is critical in Louisiana, which ranks fifth in the nation in total boating (and fatal) accidents, the Auxillary Flotilla 42 said in a news release. Louisiana ranks behind only California, Florida, Michigan and Texas.

In 2009, there were 26 fatal boating accidents resulting in 33 fatalities, which equates to about one fatality every two weeks.

However, when alcohol was a contributing factor, Louisiana tied Florida at 17 for the most fatalities in the country.

This boating safety class will give operators the knowledge needed to obtain a boat license or safety certification in many states, including Louisiana. In addition, many boat insurance companies will offer discounts (up to 20 percent) on boating insurance to those who successfully complete this course.

Among the many topics covered will be how to know where you should be in relation to other vessels and which vessel has the right of way; how to read buoys and understand many navigation rules; proper use of navigation lights and anchors; how to safely fuel, load and unload your vessel; what to do in an emergency and how to summon help; and proper use of fire extinguishers and flares.

Click here for more details and registration.

Since class space is limited, pre-registration is highly encouraged. If you pre-register and are unable to attend the class, you will be able to attend another date in 2010 without penalty.