Read the owner’s manual
Have you noticed that several recreational boat owners have become newsworthy recently because they went aground on our offshore reefs?
It's not the sort of fame any boat owner wants, of course. However these recurring incidents do emphasize the fact that safe boating knowledge and skill don't come automatically with the purchase of a boat.
It was very fortunate that in each instance there were no serious injuries or lives lost, but the potential was there. And in a contest between sharp coral and a fiberglass hull, the coral always wins.
Just the threat of losing their boats should be more than enough reason for Hawaii's recreational boaters to consider giving themselves and their families a gift this year that will really keep on giving: enrollment in the Honolulu Sail & Power Squadron's Boat Smart course.
This three-session course is specifically designed for people who have a limited amount of time, but who still want a thorough understanding of all of the basic do's and don'ts of small boat handling.
Through a combination of lectures and self-study lessons, the course curriculum begins with explanations of general boating terminology and boat design concepts.
Instruction on fundamental boat handling -- both sail and power -- and elementary seamanship follows and includes how to safely cast off, turn, stop, anchor, and dock a boat. Common boating courtesies are discussed as well.
Basic knot tying, chart and compass reading, and course plotting are taught, along with proper marine radio procedures. Students also learn to identify the various navigation aids, such as buoys, range markers and lights.
International, federal, and state boating laws are also examined, including those dealing with passenger safety, fire prevention and water pollution.
Students who successfully complete the Squadron's Boat Smart course often see as much as a 15 percent discount in their liability insurance rates. That discount might become important in the future because -- I am told -- the Division of Boating will once again be asking the Legislature to pass a bill that will require boaters who use state facilities to have liability insurance.
The Boat Smart classes will be held for three consecutive Saturdays at the Waikiki Yacht Club -- near the Diamond Head entrance to Ala Moana Beach Park -- from 8 a.m. to noon, beginning on Jan. 5. The $50 charge covers the cost of the course manual and other study materials.
Boat ownership is not required Early registration is highly recommended due to the limited seating.
For information and registration, call Squadron's hotline at 255-3373.
As the Squadron's instructors have pointed out in the past, "Safe boating is no accident." (Pun intended.) "Safe boating happens when boaters have learned the skills necessary to competently and properly operate their vessels."
And those skills are also likely to help boaters avoid our offshore reefs.