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DLNR: Personal water craft certification required for thrill craft operators

By Staff | Jun 18, 2009

HONOLULU – The state Department of Land and Natural Resources reminds the public that certification in the safe use of thrill craft, also known as jet skis and Personal Water Craft (PWC), is required to operate these types of vessels on state waters.

“Their acceleration, speed capabilities and maneuverability make thrill craft fun to ride,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chair. “These same attributes also place them in the high-risk category as far as waterborne vessels go.”

Their size, relatively low cost and fuel efficiency make them cost-efficient and easy to store, and that undoubtedly contributed to the rise in their numbers, DLNR explained.

“The proliferation of thrill craft and the potential for injuries stemming from use of these vessels prompted the department to implement a rule in 2005 requiring all thrill craft operators to be certified,” said Thielen.

In order to meet the need for certification, DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) worked with the community colleges and local water safety professionals to develop two courses – one for basic PWC operation and another for tow-in surfing certification.

In addition to basic rules-of-the-road instruction, these two PWC certification courses cover such information as local ocean safety principles and practices; historical, cultural and customary practices of Hawaii’s ocean users; and rules or laws pertaining to protected species and thrill craft operation in the state.

“Although we have had the rule in place for quite some time and a system for certifying operators, not a lot of people know about the requirement. As a result, a great number of thrill craft enthusiasts are operating their vessels without the proper certification,” said Thielen.

People operating their thrill craft without the required certification can be fined $50 to $1,000.

Maui Community College is the only entity that offers the state-approved thrill craft certification course needed to operate a thrill craft here. Cost for the one-day Recreational Thrill Craft Operators Safety Educational Course for PWC certification is $109. Cost for the two-day Ocean Safety Educational Course for tow-in surfing certification is $139. The course fee includes a manual, certificate of completion and laminated certificate that an operator can carry on the jet ski. The next course on Maui is slated for Oct. 3-4; call (808) 235-7433 to register.

More information on operating a PWC in Hawaii is posted at http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dbor/bor_pwcs.htm.