You probably didn't know this—I didn't—but according to a press release from the BoatUS Foundation, "Spring Aboard" week starts Sunday. And that means next week, March 18-24, is a perfect time to take a boating safety course before the start of the boating season.

boynefleet15

Ready for the boating season—why not take a free boating safety course to get you even more ready? Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

A week-long "Spring Aboard" public service campaign highlights the educational effort put forth by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the government and several nonprofit partners, including the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water.

The campaign promotes the fact that the BoatUS Foundation offers a no-cost NASBLA and state-approved online boating safety course for 36 states at BoatUS.org/Free.

The best part is the course fits into busy schedules, allowing boaters to stop and start again where they left off at any time, and is loaded with interactive animations, videos and photos to provide an education that goes well beyond the basics of boating. Upon successful passage course takers can easily print their state’s proof of completion. According to BoatUS, more than 1.4 million boaters have taken the foundation’s courses since 1997.

If you've never taken a class, here's an interesting tidbit you might want to know. U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that of the accidents where the level of operator education was known, 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the operator had never received boating education instruction.