Boating fun includes staying safe
Hardly a week goes by that we don't hear of some boater being rescued in the waters offshore. And way too often, it's someone who appeared to have plenty of boating experience.
This is one of the reasons, I'm sure, that national organizations like the U.S. Power Squadron, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and BoatU.S. design their safe boating courses for the old salt as well as the first-time sailor.
It never hurts to take a refresher course, no matter what the subject or your level of experience, and in offshore boating; it just might save your life.
So, as May 20-26 has been designated National Safe Boating Week, this is a great time to consider enrolling in any of these organizations' back-to-basics courses.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways for boaters of all levels of experience to test their knowledge is with the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water's free, online safety course at www.BoatUS.org/onlinecourse.
The course is based on 60 multiple-choice questions that cover a broad range of topics for both power and sailboaters. And those who complete the course may qualify for possible insurance discounts, as it is accepted by many states as a certified boating safety course.
This "exam" is designed as a teaching tool, with background material on question topics available throughout the exam, and corrections and explanations given when a question is answered incorrectly. Any unfamiliar topics can be reviewed with a "study topics" button.
"While it's great for less-experienced boaters," Boating Safety Director Chris Edmonston said, "we get feedback from older salts who tell us they have benefited from it as well. They thank us for learning something new or for reminding them of something they learned long ago."
For those unable to access the Internet or who may prefer more personal instruction, the Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron -- a unit of the U.S. Power Squadron -- is currently enrolling students in its "Boat Smart" safe boating course that begins on June 3.
This course is conveniently held at the Waikiki Yacht Club on three consecutive Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon, and although the course is free, there is a $40 charge for the Squadron's comprehensive manual.
The course curriculum includes classroom lectures, as well as self-study material on the safe handling of sail and power boats, anchoring, knot-tying, chart-reading, operating a mariner's compass, understanding aids to navigation and using marine-band radios.
Boating experience is not required for the course; it is open to all adults and teenagers, and like the BoatU.S. course, graduates may be eligible for discounts on their marine insurance.
One word of advice though, because this class fills up fast, interested boaters should register by calling 395-5080 as soon as possible.