Alaska Marine Safety

Education Association








Recreational & Subsistence
Boating Safety

According to U.S. Coast Guard fatality data from 2005, Alaska has the highest boating fatality rate in the U.S. with 41 deaths for every 100,000 residents. Boaters at highest risk operate boats under 26' in rural areas.

However, boater safety education appears to work. In 2005, death rates per 100,000 registered boaters in states with no educational requirement were almost six times higher than in states with longstanding requirements.

Overview of the AMSEA Recreational & Subsistence
Boating Safety Program

This AMSEA program focuses on building and supporting a boating safety instructor network in Alaska. As with other AMSEA programs, our strategy is to teach community-based instructors and support them with relevant curricula, teaching materials and training equipment. Instructors become the engine that drives the program at the community level. They adapt course materials and teach to the needs of boaters in their communities. Since organizations like the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary have established boating safety education programs in larger Alaska communities, AMSEA's emphasis is on training instructors in rural Alaska, or in sites without other resources.

A Sitka boater learns how to launch emergency signal flares
during a course for recreational boaters

Recreational & Subsistence Boating Safety Courses

AMSEA offers safe boating courses for that address Alaska's special needs. The courses usually include a mixture of presentations and hands-on activities. Courses typically are designed to meet the needs of participants and can take from 8 to 20 hours to complete. Courses currently being offered include:

  • Basic Boating Safety
  • Boating Without the Boys – Basic Boating Safety for Women
  • Basic Boating Safety Incorporating Alaska Water Wise
  • Coastal Navigation
  • Emergency Procedures for Recreational Boaters (EPRB)

Detailed descriptions of each of these courses are available on the Recreational and Subsistence Course Description page.

And, see AMSEA's Course Calendar for scheduled upcoming recreational & subsistence boating safety courses.

Program History

Since the organization's inception, AMSEA instructors have designed and taught boating safety courses for recreational and subsistence boaters. Thousands of non-commercial boaters receive boating safety training every year. AMSEA supports this instructions with training gear, safety publications and videos, and coordination.

AMSEA's recreational boating safety education program gained momentum as result of enactment of Alaska's Safe Boating Law in 2000. Alaska's new Office of Boating Safety needed a curriculum and a community-based instructor network to deliver boating safety education statewide. The State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Office of Boating Safety contracted with AMSEA to help develop the program.

AMSEA worked with the state to develop the Alaska Water Wise (AWW) curriculum, a course that more than meets the basic requirements of the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). The curriculum includes hands-on skills and topics appropriate to Alaska boating and cold environments. More than 200 instructors have been trained for the state's program since 2001.