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Test Your Boating IQ

When it comes to boating knowledge, are you a Rear Admiral or First Mate, or more of a Captain Stubing or Gilligan? Somewhere in between?

Test your recreational boating IQ and help to stay safe out on the high seas with this quiz that won’t take a 3-hour tour to complete.

1. Many boaters carry a signal flag to let other boaters know if they are in distress. This flag is approximately 3 feet by 3 feet and has the following attributes:

a. Red flag with diagonal white stripe
b. White flag with a red triangle on it
c. Solid red or orange flag
d. Flag with Big Bird’s face on it

2. If someone says he or she is going “aft,” where are they going?

a. To the right side of the boat
b. To the left side of the boat
c. To the front of the boat
d. To the rear of the boat
e. To the brig

3. Unlike cars, boats move around on a vertical axis that controls the entire vessel. This movement or axis is referred to as:

a. Rotary
b. Yaw
c. Pitch
d. RickRoll

4. The United States Coast Guard has established specific safety items that must be on board every recreational boat, such as having a life preserver (jacket/vest) for every passenger. Which of the items listed below is usually NOT required?

a. Distress signals (flags, etc.)
b. Fire extinguisher
c. Compass and map
d. Whistle, bell or horn

5. Where is the “bilge” on a boat?

a. The back of the boat where the outboard motor is attached
b. The lowest compartment at the boat’s bottom
c. The very front storage compartment
d. At the end of the gangplank

6. When traveling in the main body of a small-ish sized lake, which direction should you be going?

a. East-West
b. Clockwise
c. Counter clockwise
d. North-South

7. If someone says they are on the “starboard” side of the boat, where are they?

a. Hollywood
b. At the front of the boat
c. At the rear of the boat
d. On the right side when facing forward
e. On the left side when facing forward

8. Over the past decade or so, the United States has averaged between 500 and 700 recreational boating deaths a year, the vast majority from drowning. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, what percentage of drowning victims did NOT have a life vest on?

a. 54%
b. 84%
c. 100%
d. 76%

9. Running a boat through water creates waves on the surface. The faster you go, the bigger the waves you create. What is this water disturbance known as?

a. Wake
b. Wave
c. Dimple
d. Splash

10. It’s a good idea to prepare a checklist of important items that should be thought about before you go boating. Which simple item, directly linked to sinking, should be on the checklist but is often overlooked?

a. Make sure you have enough fuel
b. Check the weather for forecasted wind and rain
c. Make sure the bilge/drain plug is in
d. Check the battery

11. The S.A.F.E. Boating principles stand for: Sober Boating, Alertness, Fasten Lifejackets, and Education.

a. True
b. False

12. Cruising in a manner that keeps spray from coming over the sides of the boat is accomplished by?

a. Staying home in winds over 5 miles per hour
b. Only cruising downwind
c. Putting all of your crew on one side of the boat
d. Tossing your treasure chest overboard
e. Adjusting speed and positioning occupants to balance the boat

13. If you are involved in a boating accident, federal law requires that you file an accident report with your state’s reporting agency.

a. True
b. False

14. What is the leading cause of boating accidents?

a. Pirates
b. Faulty motors
c. Human error
d. Bad weather

15. What does a flashing blue light indicate?

a. A no wake zone
b. A law enforcement vessel
c. A bridge
d. The Love Boat

16. When two power boats meet head on, both vessels must turn to the right (starboard).

a. True
b. False

17. If your boat capsizes, you should:

a. Abandon it
b. Swim as far away from the boat as you can
c. Use the boat for flotation
d. Throw your life jacket on the boat so it doesn’t sink

18. Navigation lights must be displayed from sunset to sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility such as rain or fog.

a. True
b. False


1.  b
2.  d
3.  c
4.  c
5.  b
6.  c
7.  d
8.  d
9.  a
10.  b
11.  a
12.  e
13.  a
14.  c
15.  b
16.  a
17.  c
18.  a

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Resources:, Boating Safety Magazine,,, National Maritime College

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