How I Got a Boating License as a Student

If you come to Rostock and think that you can easily ride on the Baltic Sea by boat, you should be warned:
In general, boats with a power of more than 15 HP require a sports boat licence in Germany.

If you would like to stay in our beautiful city for a longer period of time as a student and you want to enjoy all adrenaline options that the baltic sea has to offer, I recommend that you obtain a boat driving license. The sport boat driving license is divided into two sections, namely Sportbootführerschein See and Sportbootführerschein Binnen. The Sportbootführerschein See gives you permission to drive around the Baltic and North Sea with fast machines. With the Sportbootführerschein Binnen you are allowed drive around on many inland waterways and rivers in Germany. The University of Rostock offers courses for obtaining this driving licence as a student. There you will learn how to handle motor and sailing ships. The course fee is 200 Euro for members of the university. For the final exam I paid another 125€. I finished my driver’s license in three weeks. I want to give you a quick overview about what I experienced during that time.

Before you start your training, it is necessary that you have yourself checked for suitability to handle a water-vehicle. For example, if you have circulatory problems or you can not distinguish red-green properly, that could be an exclusion criterion.

In this course I first learned the theoretical aspects of boat guidance. It starts with navigating the waters with maps and without the aid of technical equipment. I learned how to handle all safety standards during the boat tour and how to instruct my own crew correctly when taking off. It is important not to collide with other boats or objects while driving. There are signals in the form of certain light patterns, colours and sounds, to avoid danger and collusion. All of them I had to memorize. Of course, you can’t sail wherever you want to, certain water zones will be permitted or you will need special permission to access. I strongly advise against driving into military water zones if your health is dear to you. The weather also plays an incredible role as a captain. How to behave at certain weather conditions became part of my theory training as well. Last but not least, there are general rules for driving a boat, especially when it comes to the appropriate handling of the engine and giving specific orders with the right register to your crew members.

In the practical training I was faced with several challenges. Here I learned how to steer and navigate the boat, how to tie the knots correctly to secure your boat and in general how to put the whole theory part into practice. Particularly exciting are the rescue missions, in which I had to bring in barrels without collision and navigate to these accidents with a compass.

Once the theory and practice have been overcome, I took the exam. My examination took place in Marktgrafenheide. I was in a hall supervised by long-established captains. The test consisted of several parts:

  • theory questions where you have to cross out the right answer
  • recognition of certain signals
  • marking of navigation routes

The practical part was actually just a complete repetition of everything I learned in training.


After I got through it, I received a certificate, my boat driver’s licenses and I was allowed to offically take off – as a captain.


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