Even the sunniest summer eventually comes to an end, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop thinking about boating. Use the off-season to brush up on navigational skills, emergency procedures, and safety regulations. Nationally recognized courses geared to all ages and skill levels are now offered online, in the classroom, and through interactive CD-ROM formats provided by boating organizations and government agencies alike.
Training is important to the safety and well being of everyone on board. For boat owner-operators, there’s an added incentive: insurance companies frequently offer discounts on boat insurance to individuals who successfully complete a boating safety course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard.
| Do you know what this buoy conveys?
So this winter complete an education and training course, get an insurance discount, and be ready to launch with confidence come spring.
Get the Basics
Those eager to purchase their first boat, or weekend boaters who take to the water in rented vessels, need a solid foundation of knowledge and skills to get started. In popular basic courses, important aspects of boating safety can be covered in just 8-10 hours of instruction that include a review of federal requirements. New boaters learn about required safety equipment, proper boat steerage, hull identification numbers, the various types of engines, sound-producing devices, visual distress signals, dock lines and rope, the types of knots and their uses, weather and tides, entering, loading and trimming a boat, as well as special information for operating personal watercraft.
Boaters also learn how to share the waterways safely with others. Unlike a new motorist driving on a highway, a new boater in open water sees no obvious lanes and traffic lights to signal when to stop or when it’s permissible to make a turn. There are rules and signals to ensure safe boating practices. A basic course can show you how to recognize them. The Rules of Navigation, available under “Regulations” at www.uscgboating.org is a compilation of laws and best practices to be followed by boaters. There are also buoys, day beacons, lighted structures, lighthouses, and range markers to mark the safest routes on the water. A basic boating course will tell you how to read these Aids to Navigation.