Bone Up On Your Boating Skills

Bone Up On Your Boating Skills

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The Mid-Atlantic region offers plenty of educational opportunities in the cooler months for mariners looking for certification or to learn new skills. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

Bone Up on Your Boating Skills and then enjoy the Tides.

With cooler temperatures prevailing in the Mid-Atlantic region, it’s a good time to take in a boating course or two on such topics as safety precautions, navigating and diesel basics to name a few. Fortunately, our region offers plenty of educational opportunities, many of which are nearby and relatively inexpensive.

Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina all offer state-sponsored safe boating classes with schedules and registration available on their state government boating websites. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), for example, offers free instructor-led courses to the public. Pre-registration is required and classes typically fill fast. VDGIF recommends its basic course for anyone 12 years and older with good reading and comprehension skills who want to learn more about safe and responsible boating. By 2016 in Virginia, all operators of PWCs and motorboats with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater will be required to have a boating safety education course completion card on board. The schedule for a variety of courses are on the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons websites—just punch in your zip code. cgaux.org; usps.org

The other option is simply propping yourself in front of a computer. Courses approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators are accepted for certification by all the states. Some courses have a fee. nasbla.org

Scenic wine tasting
Once you’re of legal age or if you already are, a fantastic place to dock is the Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia, for its annual “Taste by the Bay: Wine, Food, Arts and Ale” event on November 21st from 11AM to 5PM. Activities include samplings from local wineries and craft breweries, tastings from local restaurants, live music by Mercy Creek, and shopping—well-timed for the holiday season—for local creations by artisan vendors.

The Tides Inn overlooks Chesapeake Bay and is an 11-minute walk from the Steamboat Era Museum and 5.5 miles from the boutiques and galleries of Kilmarnock. The Inn’s marina on Carters Creek offers new floating docks that accommodate up to 24 vessels ranging from small weekend cruisers to 150-foot charters. The resort also offers tennis, golf and a spa. Lodge Marina, a water taxi ride away from the Tides, provides 36 slips and also accommodates boats up to 150 feet. tidesinn.com

Big fish are back
It’s that time of the year when large migrant striped bass make their way back through Chesapeake Bay from more northern environs. Anglers fishing in the 23rd Fall Classic November 20-22 hosted by the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association hope to hook up with the traveling fish for prize money, bragging rights and, perhaps, seafood to add to this year’s Thanksgiving feast. Some 800 anglers on more than 200 boats are expected to participate in this year’s tournament, which is the last in the club’s tournament series. During the two-day competition, anglers can fish their favorite hot spots throughout the Bay and its tributaries as the MSSA and its volunteers have weigh stations set up from Sandy Point to Point Lookout. mssa.org

By Christopher Knauss, Southern Boating, November 2015