Operator Age and Education Requirements
California law requires a person to be 16 years of age or older and in possession of his/her California Boater Card to legally operate a vessel powered by a motor, including personal watercraft (PWC).
- Here are the exceptions to this law.
- Persons 12 to 15 years of age may operate a vessel powered by a motor of more than 15 horsepower, including PWC, if they are supervised on board by a person at least 18 years of age who is in possession of a California Boater Card as required by law.
- There is no age restriction for operating a sailboat under 30 feet long (with wind as the main source of propulsion) or a dinghy used between a moored vessel and shore or between two moored vessels.
- It is illegal to permit a person under the age of 16 to operate a vessel powered by a motor of more than 15 horsepower, including PWC, without on-board supervision by a person 18 years of age or older who possesses a valid California Boater Card.