Where To Find AdvancedBy Chris Edmonston
Published: February/March 2013
Hands-on, on-the-water, and remote-learning tools offer boaters great ways to hone their skills.
Getting on-the-water training is one of the best ways to learn how to operate a boat. To get a driver's license to operate a car, you must take a theory class and show basic proficiency behind the wheel. This isn't the case for motorized vessels. There's a vast difference in how various boats handle, and there are many other impediments to widespread on-water training, such as finding a location to hold a course, vessel availability, as well as numerous legal and insurance requirements. Holding an on-water course for powerboaters can be an expensive proposition and can
There has been, over the past three years, an increasing call for less expensive and more readily available on-water courses. Two groups leading the way are the U.S. Power Squadrons and U.S. Powerboating — both offering powerboat training. The Power Squadrons, in partnership with Brunswick dealers, offer a variety of courses at dealerships across the country, including hands-on training. U.S. Powerboating, through partner schools as well as individual instructors, offers on-water training as well as courses that provide a state boating certificate. Courses are available nationally, and are priced at around $400 and up depending on location. On-water topics for both groups include: starting procedures, docking, close-quarters boat handling, highspeed maneuvers, anchoring, and even man-overboard rescue. Some state boating agencies, such as Ohio, Arizona, Texas, New York, and Florida, have begun to teach recreational boaters closequarters boat handling, using the National Safe Boating Council's (NSBC) "Close Quarters Boat Control Course." This course is strictly designed to show boaters how to maneuver their boats around docks and congested waterways, and doesn't cover topics that the Power Squadron or U.S. Powerboating course would cover. That said, the NSBC will soon be producing an open-water course as well.
Online basic boating courses have been around for 15 years, and offer some unique advantages — they're available any time of day, and can be taken from any computer with an Internet connection. Online courses are approved by most states and range in price from free (the BoatUS Foundation course) to $30. The U.S. Power Squadron offers some of the advanced courses online, through the University of West Florida. ABYC offers some of their training courses as online webinars.
The Foundation has been a clearinghouse for classroom courses for more than 30 years — we currently list many of the courses mentioned in this article on our BoatUS course locator website. So, for the start of the new season, take the BoatUS free online course to brush up on the laws and regulations in your state; or even better, sign up for an advanced boating course. Any boating course will help you be a more confident boater, and that will make boating safer and more enjoyable for you and your guests.
Your cell phone or tablet doesn't just make boating better, it can make it safer, too.
BoatUS and the U.S. Power Squadrons team up to turn your first mate into your "Partner In Command".
Do you meet your state's boating requirements? Education requirements vary greatly by state