Brush Up on Your Boating Skills
With many boats stored away in the Mid-Atlantic, winter is a fine time to visit cozy, indoor boating and fishing shows or brush up on your boating skills.
Winter is a great time to take a boating safety course. It’s also a good time for mariners to schedule an upcoming lesson with One Knot On Water Boat Training. While basic boating courses oer information on navigation rules and basic boat handling skills, actually docking a boat in a strong current or wind can be an anxious undertaking. One Knot, now available in Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach, helps mariners gain confidence in maneuvering their boat on the water. John Phillips, a licensed captain, launched One Knot in 2016.
“We learned that our market is bigger than new boat owners,” says Phillips. “The people most interested are husband-wife and parent-teen teams. It turns out husbands and dads aren’t the best instructors.”
Phillips tailors training sessions to each customer’s needs. A general overview can be offered or more focused instruction on specific aspects of boating, such as handling lines, understanding throttle response, setting an economical and safe cruising speed, and so on. Instruction starts at $225 for three hours.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, offers hands-on learning opportunities throughout the year. From 10 AM to 4 PM on January 12th, work with shipwrights and learn some boatbuilding fundamentals by taking part in the restoration of Delaware, a 1912 river tug that hauled scows laden with lumber and towed schooners up and down the Eastern Shore’s narrow, winding rivers. On January 19th from 10AM to noon, knob turning, button pushing and screen reading will be part of Capt. Jerry Friedman’s talk titled “Electronic Navigation for Non-Technical People.” Friedman, a 100- ton, USCG-licensed Master, will answer questions and provide short non-technical descriptions of how GPS, GPS plotters, radar, depth sounders, and automatic identification systems work.
Safety Course IDs Required in Virginia
Virginia boaters looking for an easy way to demonstrate they have passed a safety education course can now order a lifetime boating card through the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries website. The durable, driver’s license-styled card is $10 and is available to anyone who has passed a course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). If you have yet to take a basic boating safety course, winter is a great time to get it done or take a refresher.
In Virginia, all personal watercraft operators ages 14 and older and all operators of motorboats with a 10-horsepower or greater engine need to take a boating safety course and must have a course completion card on board when operating a vessel. There are, however, some exceptions, such as proof of relevant military service or U.S. Coast Guard license holders. If you have previously taken a NASBLA-approved boating safety course and still have a card or certificate, carry it with you. Most state boating courses, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary courses, and U.S. Power Squadrons (USPS) courses are now NASBLA-approved.
Both online and face-to-face course options are available and affordable. The basic Boat Virginia Course offered by the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries is free. Courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and USPS may include some cost to cover materials, generally $25 to $50, but they are well worth the investment and may help save your life.
Winter Boat Shows
With many boats stored away in the Mid-Atlantic, winter is a fine time to visit cozy, indoor boating and fishing shows and plan for the next boating season. Besides offering a large selection of boats to mull over, many shows offer seminars focused on ways to improve your skills on the water and present a large selection of information booths and vendors offering the latest equipment, accessories, and service.
By Chris Knauss, Southern Boating February 2018