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Give the Gift of Safety

by Wayne Spivak, Branch Chief -Training Department - USCG Auxiliary

Trying to determine that ultimate holiday gift for yourself or a seafaring loved one? The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has the perfect answer – give the gift of safety and take one of the many boating educational courses offered throughout the year.

For the first time boater, we have About Boating Safely. This National Association of State Boating Law Administrator’s (NASBLA)-approved course teaches the basics of boating safety. Lights, emergency procedures, and required equipment are all covered in this 8-hour class. This course normally satisfies state educational requirements (contact your state boating office for exact details).

Those who are interested in more than just the basics, but don’t want to get heavy into navigation, may be interested in our Boating Skills and Seamanship course. This course tries to answer the question of which boat is best for you and what equipment you need (in addition to required equipment). We talk about trailing your boat and boat handling. After we’ve left that proverbial dock, we learn about the Rules of the Road and the signposts or buoyage.

Along the voyage, you’d like to stop, so we talk about marlinespike (lines and knots), and you’d also like to start again, so we go over powering your boat. Other topics include weather, your VHF radio, and other items of safety.

For those true sailors out there (the type that enjoys using canvas to harness the energy of the wind), we provide Sailing Skills & Seamanship. This course, which satisfies the classroom portion of the American Sailing Association certification process, covers a diverse set of topics. In order to sail, you need to understand your energy source, so we talk about the wind, boat trim, sail handling, as well as the responsibilities of skipper and crew. Safety is discussed, as it pertains to your personal safety, the crew and the boat. Part of a safety education includes understanding the Rules of the Road, buoyage and seamanship skills.

We also offer a course entitled Navigating with GPS. This course discusses how a GPS works. It does not teach you how to use your specific GPS (because there are so many brands and models). This two-hour course covers basic navigation principles, because a solid background in navigation will increase your understanding of how to navigate with a GPS. Understanding the principles behind GPS navigation is crucial if you want to avoid hitting that island the lies between your dock and your destination.

For a full list of courses offered, please visit www.cgaux.org/boatinged.

Any time of year is the perfect time to stay nautical and increase your awareness of your boating environment. Take a boating course today.

For more information, contact your local Coast Guard Auxillary Flotilla by either finding them on http://www.cgaux.org or contacting your local Coast Guard unit at www.uscg.mil.

[Editor’s Note:  ABA has joined forces with the U.S. Coast Guard to help promote its new public safe boating outreach initiative – “You’re in Command.” This initiative encourages all recreational boaters to take responsibility for their actions on the water.  And, an easy and effective way to improve your boating skills is by taking America’s Boating Course, a new basic, boating course, available to take online, via CD-Rom, or in a classroom setting – whichever you prefer. You can study at your own pace... on your own time... any place you have a computer to use.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, about 80 percent of all boating fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety education course. Now you can make sure that you don’t become another statistic by taking the ABC. Learn more at www.americanboating.org/americas_boating_course.asp.

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