The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering online boating safety classes with a local instructor in four-week sections. The next group of classes is starting on Thursday, September 23.

Are you interested in learning how to have a safe experience on the water from the safety of your own home? The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary can help with that. Online boating safety classes are offered in four-week sections with the next group of classes starting on Thursday, September 23.

According to Course Instructor Rich Strehl, the classes, which were shut down due to COVID-19, are for anyone who wants to become a safer boater or wishes to obtain their required boater safety card.

“In order to operate a motorboat of 10 horsepower or greater, Florida law requires anyone who was born on or after January 1, 1988 to successfully complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the FWC (Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission),” said Strehl. “We are an approved course and students successfully completing this course will receive their FWC certificate.”

The classes will run consistently throughout the year after resuming on September 23 and will take place every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for four weeks.

“Students can join the class at any point but must complete all coursework before receiving their certificate,” said Strehl. “For example, if someone misses week two, they can make up week two during the next run of classes.”

Each two-hour class is taught by Strehl, who has 37 years of boating experience in Florida and is a certified instructor with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and is followed by a multiple-choice test.

“I bring firsthand experience and even a little humor to the virtual classroom,” he said. “Having an instructor gives students an opportunity to ask questions that might not otherwise be available in course content.”

The cost of the class, which is taught out of a 60-page manual, is $40.

“Florida is such a boating destination, and it leads the nation in the number of registered vessels at just under 1,000,000,” said Strehl. “More and more boats enter our waterways each year. Boating can lend to some of the best memories, but it can be dangerous when people don’t have the basic training needed to enjoy their day safely on the water. If we save one life or prevent one serious injury, it is worth it.”

For more information, contact Strehl at 299-8236 or

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.