Every boater, sooner or later, must ask himself this question: do I need a boat license? To ask himself could be a person accustomed to driving small boats with engines of reduced power, and who is caressing the idea of moving on to the next step. Or it could instead be someone who is making his entry right now into the world of pleasure boating, and who wants to sail freely on sailboats or motorboats, without too stringent stakes. Because of course, respecting certain limits, it is possible to navigate even without this license; However, there is no doubt that those who have a boat license can experience our seas in a completely different way. That said, those who think that taking the exam for the boat license is a walk in the park are wrong: it is an appointment that must be faced with commitment, preparing in the right way. Today we will therefore see when the boat license is mandatory, what are the types of license to choose from, how the exam takes place and what are the tools for the nautical license exam. Happy reading!
When a boat license is mandatory
In which cases is it necessary to have a boat license? There are several conditions that trigger the obligation of the license to drive the boat, relating to the characteristics of the vehicle and the type of navigation:
• The boat license is mandatory in any case to sail at a distance of more than 6 miles from the coast
• regardless of the distance from the coast, it is mandatory to have a nautical license to drive boats driven by engines with power exceeding 40.8 horsepower, as well as with engines with a displacement greater than 750 cc in case of carburetion or two-stroke injection; with engines with a displacement of more than 1,000 cc in case of 4-stroke outboard carburetion with direct injection; with engines with a displacement of more than 1,300 cc, in the case of 4-stroke inboard carburetion; finally, with diesel engines with a displacement of more than 2,000 cc
• The license is mandatory to drive boats longer than 24 meters
• it is necessary to have a boat license to drive a boat for water skiing
• Regardless of the distance from the coast, a boat license is mandatory to drive a jet ski.
It is therefore possible to sail without a boat license, within 6 miles from the coast, with a small boat powered by a reduced power engine, such as an outboard motor up to 40.8 horsepower. As the distance from the coast or the engine power increases, however, the license is no longer optional.
The types of boat license
Now let's see which and how many types of nautical licenses exist. We are talking about 4 categories, namely:
• Category A: this license entitles you to drive boats, pleasure boats and jet skis (and not pleasure boats, and therefore not hulls over 24 meters). The category A boat license is also divided into the type "within 12 miles" and the category "without limits", which allows you to sail over 12 miles from the coast. It should also be said that this license can be requested only for the navigation of motor boats or, in the most complete case, also for sailing boats.
• Category B: the second category is dedicated to the management of pleasure boats, i.e. hulls with a length of more than 24 meters. It should be emphasized that to obtain this license it is necessary, among other things, to have an unlimited type A license for at least 3 years.
• Category C: the nautical licenses of this category are designed exclusively for people who, being carriers of particular pathologies, can drive a boat only in the presence of a second person, over the age of 18 and able to carry out the necessary management and management activities of the vehicle.
• Category D: this is a nautical license with particular limitations, a special qualification for the management of boats, pleasure boats and jet skis.
Leaving aside the exceptional cases of categories C and D, most people choose between the most common category A boat license or, as a possible and next step, for the category B boat license, which is mainly used by those who want to start a professional career in the management of large ships.
How the boat license exam takes place after 2022
The process of the nautical license exam has recently been modified, together with the update of the Nautical Code. The so-called "new exams" started from the summer of 2022, with the entry into force of the single national list of quizzes for carrying out the written tests necessary for obtaining the nautical license. The most important novelty introduced by the update is precisely the presence of an identical quiz listing for everyone, without however differences between those who aim for a license within 12 miles and those who aim at the nautical license without limits. The only difference between those who want the license within 12 miles and the unlimited one is related to the quiz test on the elements of nautical charting. In the case of a driving licence within 12 miles, these are actually 5 simple single-answer questions. To pass this step, the candidate is required to answer at least 4 questions correctly. Those who aim for the license without limits must face the nautical chart test, to be done on nautical charts, with 4 independent questions: to pass the exam it is necessary to give a correct answer to 3 questions.
The next step for the license consists of the basic quiz, with 20 alternative answer questions: the sufficiency corresponds to 16 correct answers. Those who want to drive a sailboat must also answer 5 other questions (to pass this test 4 correct answers are required).
Finally we come to the practical test, which, unlike in the past, no longer presents further theoretical questions. The typical exercises are approaching the quay, driving the boat at various speeds, and so on.
The tools to prepare for the boat license exam
Whether you choose to prepare for the private boat license exam or through a course at a nautical school, it must be said that the law requires 5 hours of certified maneuvers for all candidates. As for the duration of the courses, everything depends on the organization of the individual nautical schools: there are institutions that offer full-time courses in a few days, and others that instead offer courses with lessons over several months.
To prepare for the texts there are also many tools for the nautical license exam: think of the many quizzes, exercises and nautical chart solutions, learning games and so on, to make your preparation more complete and at the same time less heavy.
How much does it cost to get a boat license?
Finally, we come to the costs of obtaining the nautical license. In reality, there is no fixed price valid for everyone: what makes the difference is first of all the choice to prepare as a private student or attending a course at a nautical school, as well as the desire to get a license within 12 miles or without limits. The duration of the course itself obviously affects the price indicated by the school. In principle, those who choose to attend a course can expect to spend a total of between 500 and 1,000 euros, a total cost that will include not only the cost of the course, but also the bureaucratic costs for the final exam, the costs for printing the license and so on.