About the Study Guide

You are looking at a preview of what’s in the timed Texas Boat Ed Course. Feel free to look around, but you’ll need to register to begin progress toward getting your Texas Boater Education Certificate.

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You’ve completed the material of Unit 4 of the online boating safety course!

You should now:

  • Know which vessels need to be registered and how to do so
  • Be able to correctly place certificate numbers and registration decals on a vessel
  • Know where to find the HIN
  • Know the age restrictions on operation
  • Be able to list the unlawful behaviors that should be avoided when operating a vessel
  • Be able to explain the dangers of consuming alcohol or drugs while boating and the penalties for doing so
  • Be able to identify classifications and uses of PFDs and state the legal requirements
  • Know the legal requirements for fire extinguishers, backfire flame arrestors, ventilation systems, and mufflers
  • Know the legal navigation light requirements
  • Know the legal requirements for VDSs and sound-producing devices
  • Know requirements for other equipment such as diver-down flags or state-required equipment
  • Understand the legal requirements specific to PWC
  • Know the legal requirements for towing a skier with a vessel
  • Understand how to properly dispose of waste, oil, and trash and properly use MSDs
  • Know when and how to report a boating accident.

A Video Message From Texas Parks and Wildlife

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Video Transcript

Never Happens

Zack

All I remember is making a large U-turn and then waking up in the hospital 10 days later.

Justin

And the whole time, we’re just screaming—screaming as loud as we can hoping somebody will hear us. And nobody can hear us—no one’s around.

Jessica

I knew it was real whenever I heard the ambulance driving across the freeway over the lake.

On screen: The following stories are true.

Bobby’s Story

Jessica

It was supposed to be Bobby and two of his friends, Cedric and John, and Cedric followed us in his car to the lake.

John

Me, Bobby, and Cedric, we were saying that we would go for a little swim a little further out.

Jessica

Cedric was like, “We should go swim out to those buoys out there,” and I told Bobby no. And he kept screaming my middle name, he kept screaming, “Nicole,” because I wouldn’t turn around. I didn’t want to listen to him. Because I already told him, no, he couldn’t go out there. And he was just like, “Nicole,” and I turned around, and I was like, “What?” And he was like, “I love you.” And I was like, “I love you too, now get out of the water.” I sat in the sand, and I turned around, and him, Cedric, and John were already way out there, swimming to the buoys.

John

Bobby was about, maybe five feet away from me when I turned around to get a little breath, see if everybody was all right.

Jessica

And he actually just hit the buoy and started swimming back. He didn’t stop and take a breath.

John

Swam a little more—about two or three seconds later I turned back around, when I could touch my feet in the sand in the water. And turned around and Bobby was nowhere to be found.

Jessica

I looked back up, and John and Cedric are just standing out on the sand facing the water. And I’m standing there, and I’m just waiting. Because I see two people, and I don’t see three. And then I screamed, and I was like, “Where’s Bobby?” And they were like, “I don’t know, he hasn’t come up yet.”

On screen: Zack’s Story

Zack

There were some problems going on, like, in the family, and really I just wanted to stay out of it. My mom’s friend offered me his jet ski for the afternoon, and since I was unhappy, I went out there. I felt—I felt in control at first. I felt like I could do anything, and then I started to lose control of it. There was a couple on the other side of the lake that I remember. They were going 40. The tip of their jet ski hit me in the—hit me in the torso. The whole thing took place a couple of feet up in the air, above the surface of the water.

On screen: Brandon’s Story

Justin

We had left my grandmother’s house. It was me, Brandon, and Taylor. Loaded up my boat, and we headed out to fish to check some trot lines. We checked the fish; we only had two small fish on the trot line. So we decided, you know, with the storm blowing in and as bad as it was starting to get—because it was getting worse and worse by the minute, that we would just go ahead and leave the fish there. I had been fishing this lake since I was a little boy. And so I just was that person that didn’t think I needed a life jacket or a kill switch or any of that type of stuff, you know? I felt the boat trying to jerk to my left, and whenever I looked back, I saw Taylor, you know, with fright in his eyes. He had realized something was wrong. And it was just that split second. I mean, as soon as I looked at him, we were in the water. And, I mean, it flipped us out, and as soon as we flipped out into the water, it took our breath away, it was so cold. I’ve swam in that lake, I can’t tell you how many times, pools, I mean—it was crazy how, how fast the water took our, our energy and all of our strength away. The boat kept on going, and it started going toward the 66 Bridge, so I knew that it was gone. You know, there was no chance of getting it back.

Kali’s Story

Gabby

It was a normal day. Like, we were planning on going fishing, and—

Katy

I caught one, and I think—I don’t remember what it was. And then Gabby caught a skipjack. And Kali caught the most fish. Lucky her, she got a dogfish.

Gabby

The boat had taken a sudden turn, and we weren’t expecting it. I had been sitting right next to Kali, and I just—everything just froze, and everything was in slow motion.

Katy

I just, like, I just felt the boat do something. I wasn’t really sure, I just slid around on the floor everywhere.

Gabby

I just saw her just fly off the edge, and we heard something hit the motor.

Katy

And so—and then we—

Katy begins to cry.

Zack

We were all wearing life jackets because if not, I definitely, without a doubt, would have drowned. They pulled me onto the boat, and took me to shore. After that, the male who was driving the other jet ski started performing CPR.

Justin

Brandon started kind of getting away from us, and I just remember Taylor and me looking at each other and knowing we had really messed up.

John

I was at shore, catching my breath so I could go back out and look for Bobby. Couldn’t find him. After 20 minutes, stayed out of the water. And a police officer showed up.

Gabby

We saw her float to the top.

Katy

I just really thought, when she came up, she maybe had just knocked the breath out of her or something, like she was just passed out. And then—and then we saw her wounds, and it looked really bad from there. And that’s when we started panicking, and we pulled her up over the side of the boat, and we laid her down. And then my dad was telling us to call 911, and to put pressure on her neck. She had two, like, gashes. I didn’t know she had two, so I only had my hand on the one. And Gabby was holding her hand.

Zack

Their jet ski crushed my knee into eight pieces, lacerated my spleen, liver, and pancreas. My aorta had, like, torn.

Justin

I just remember it was like fighting a thousand people at one time. I just knew that there was no chance in hell I was going to make it. Me and Taylor were right next to each other. We couldn’t find him. He was already gone. He’d already left.

Gabby

Me and Katy just held Kali in our arms, just told her we were there for her—that everything would be OK.

Katy

And then we, we started telling her that we loved her, and like, what a great person she was. Because she was, like, she was as close to perfect as perfect could be, you know?

Jessica

Finally, I saw the boat coming back to the shore. And I saw Bobby’s body, and he was laying on the stretcher, and they laid him in the sand.

Zack

I would have been unconscious, like, at least for a day or two, but with all of the surgery and how severe the injuries were, they kept me under for 10-12 days.

Justin

I swam toward him as much as I could, you know, I could barely move myself. I was kicking my feet for him, I couldn’t find him. And then it was, after that, it was fight for yourself, you know? It was no longer “Where’s Brandon?” it was “What am I going to do to save myself?”

Gabby

Right after they took her, the policeman took me and Katy to the hospital. So we waited there, and we just prayed, and prayed, and prayed until we got the news that our best friend had passed away.

Katy

They take you to a special room where they sit you down and they tell you what they did, how hard they tried, but she just, she just wouldn’t, she just wouldn’t come back. And that’s what happened.

Justin

I just remember him saying that he saw a boat, and then whenever I heard him say that, I thought he was hallucinating. Because I know that, you know, when people are dying and stuff’s going on, you know, you think crazy things. And this boat with two gentlemen came over to me, and they threw me a rope. He pulled us both onto the boat, and we sat there for a second. And then we said Brandon’s name, and they said, “There’s somebody else?” and we said, “Yes sir.”

John

I just started, I started breaking down, and started crying, and it hurt me the most that I had to call his mom whenever—talking to a best friend’s parent and telling them that their son is gone.

Jessica

I went to him for everything, so it was really hard for him not to be there any more.

Justin

We looked for him for 29 days, and we finally found him, thanks to a lot of help. It was the worst day of my life by far, and I’ll never forget it. I see the look in his eyes sometimes when I’m sleeping.

Jessica

Because you never think it’s going to happen to you or anybody that you care for.

On screen: Bobby Miller drowned. He was 18.

Kali Gorzell died. She was 16.

Brandon Michael Fugate drowned. He was 18.

Zack Parker sustained life-threatening injuries. He spent 5 months in recovery. He was 15.

Zack

Never go beyond your limits because you’re on the water.

Gabby

Wear a life jacket.

Justin

Please, for you and your family’s sake, use a kill switch.

Zack

I’m alive because I was wearing a life jacket.

Katy

Know what to do in an emergency.

John

Keep safe in the water.

Jessica

Don’t give in to peer pressure.

Justin

Use a life jacket.

Zack

Take a boater safety course. It can save your life.

On screen: Keep safe on the water. Learn how at tpwd.state.tx.us.

This video was made possible by a generous donation from the Scott Freund Foundation.