With the fun of operating a motor boat boat comes the responsibility for keeping that boat in first-class condition, knowing and obeying the nautical "rules of the road," and gaining the general knowledge and skills to operate a boat safely.


  1. Do the following:
    • Explain first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while motorboating, including hypothermia, heat reactions, dehydration, motion sickness, insect stings, tick bites, and blisters.
    • Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person, and explain how such conditions are recognized. Demonstrate proper technique for performing CPR using a training device approved by your counselor.
  2. Do the following:
    • Before doing requirements 3 through 6, successfully complete the BSA swimmer test.
    • Name the different types of personal flotation devices (PFDs), and explain when each type should be used. Show how to choose and properly fit a PFD.
  3. Do the following:
    • Explain inboard, outboard, and inboard/outboard motors, and the uses and advantages of each. Discuss the special features of a bass boat and a ski boat.
    • Explain the safety procedures and precautions involving handling fuel and engine servicing, and equipment storage and placement.
    • Explain how to winterize a boat motor and tell why this procedure is necessary.
    • Explain the safety procedures and precautions involving swimmers and skiers in the water, passenger positions under way, and boat wakes.
  4. Show you know safety laws for motorboating by doing the following:
    • Have a permit to run a motorboat, if needed.
    • Explain the rules or laws that apply to recreational boating in your area or state.
    • Discuss how the hazards of weather and heavy water conditions can affect both safety and performance in motorboating.
    • Promise that you will follow BSA Safety Afloat guidelines. Explain the meaning of each point.
    • Discuss with your counselor the nautical rules of the road and describe the national and your state's aids to navigation.
    • Explain and show the correct use of equipment required by both state and federal regulations to be carried aboard a motorboat.
    • Explain federal and state rules for a ventilation system, and tell why these rules are required.
  5. Demonstrate proper boat-handling procedures and skills by doing the following:
    • Board and assist others in boarding.
    • Fuel the boat and complete a safety check.
    • Get under way from dockside or from a beach launch.
    • Run a course for at least a mile, showing procedures for overtaking and passing slower craft, yielding right-of-way, passing oncoming traffic, making turns, reversing direction, and using navigation aids.
    • Stop and secure the boat in position on the open water using anchors; get under way.
    • Land or dock; get out and assist others.
    • Moor the boat and secure all gear.
  6. Point out and explain the mechanical and safety features of a boat trailer. With others assisting, do the following:
    • Launch a boat from a trailer.
    • Remove a boat from the water using a trailer.


Scouting Literature

Canoeing, First Aid, Fire Safety, Fishing, Fly-Fishing, Lifesaving, Pioneering, Rowing, Small-Boat Sailing, Swimming, Waterskiing, Weather, and Whitewater merit badge pamphlets; Boy Scout Handbook and Fieldbook


  • Aarons, Richard N. Small-Boat Seamanship Manual. International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, 2006.
  • American Red Cross. American Red Cross First Aid: Responding to Emergencies. Staywell, 2005.
  • Armstrong, Bob. Getting Started in Powerboating. McGraw-Hill, 2005.
  • Browne, Steven D. Nautical Rules of the Road: The International and Inland Rules, 4th ed. Cornell Maritime Press, 2006.
  • Larkin, Frank J. Basic Coastal Navigation: An Introduction to Piloting, 2nd ed. Sheridan House, 1998.
  • Low, Charles T. Boat Docking: Close Quarters Maneuvering for Small Craft. Harvey Island Enterprises, 1997.
  • Maloney, Elbert S. Chapman Piloting and Seamanship, 65th ed. Hearst, 2006.
  • Sergeant, Frank. Complete Idiot's Guide to Boating and Sailing. Alpha Books, 2005.
  • Siminoff, Roger H. Boating 101: Essential Lessons for Boaters. International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, 1999.
  • Stagner, Eugene. Understanding the Outboard Motor, 3rd ed. Prentice Hall, 2002.
  • Thompson, Luke. Essential Boating for Teens. Children's Press, 2000.
  • U.S. Sailing Association. Start Powerboating Right! United States Sailing Association, 2003.


The following DVDs are available from Bennett Marine Video (Web site: http://bennettmarine.com ):
  • Back to the Basics of Boating
  • Back to the Basics: Improving Your Boating Skills and Knowledge
  • Back to the Basics: What to Do When Things Go Wrong
  • Boating Basics for First-Time Boaters
  • The Encyclopedia of Boating Tips
  • On-the-Water Boating Tips
  • 100 Boating Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  • Top 60 Boat-Handling Tips