Summer is right around the corner and boating is a great way to spend family time. Some of my best memories are with my dad and kids on our sailboat. Boating is a great adventure on any type of boat and is being enjoyed by many on a daily basis, but with that comes a great responsibility. It is not mandatory to do a boating course for all boats at this time but there are some very good reasons to get your self informed about the rules of the road.
1) You will learn about safety equipment and what you are required to have on your boat before you undertake any boating excursion. This is very important because what you don’t have with you could make the difference between being able to handle a situation or not. Don’t let your outing for the day cost you if the sheriff stops you to spot check your boat and fines you for not having all the safety equipment required for your specific boat.
2) You will learn that driving a boat is vastly different from driving a car. You are dealing with air and water currents. If you have never docked a boat you may think that it is easy, until that is, the current is pulling you in the opposite direction that you want to go. Understanding air and water currents will help you learn how to dock your boat.
3) Knowing how to work with lines and tying knots is part of boating. You have to be able to secure a boat properly. If your boat gets away, it is amazing how quickly the current will take it out of your reach and you will probably require the assistance of another boater to help you get to it. So practice and know your knots.
4) You will learn what the channel markers mean. You should know what the red and green markers mean on the poles. This you also learn on the course.
5) There are speed limits on certain water ways but unlike the roads, they may or may not be posted. Ignorance may not be enough to get you out of a ticket. You also want to understand the lingo on the posted signs. Example “No Wake”
6) Using charts for coastal navigation can be a life saver. It’s your road map that helps you stay away from the shallows and shows where all the markers and bridges are, and by using measurements you can calculate the distance and time it will take to get somewhere. It can be valuable tool for navigation.
7) Just like on the roads, there is the right of way. On a boating course you will learn who has the right of way and why.
8) Every boat should have a horn. You may hear one long toot or 2 short toot and so on, and you’ll learn what they mean.
9) There are boating regulations and laws that must be followed by all boaters, for example, (and I have seen this rule broken so many times) you are not allowed to sit on the bow of the boat with your feet hanging over board. There are many more regulations to learn and not knowing them can cost you.
10) Anchoring a boat is not just a matter of plopping it down to the sand. There is a mathematical technique applied to anchoring that has to do with the size and length of your boat. Knowing how to do this correctly will give you that extra insurance of knowing your boat is going nowhere until you want to move it.
There are different ways to enjoy pleasure boating such as the fast pace of ski boating or the slow pace of a trawler, kayaking or canoeing. In whatever way you want to do it, it is a good idea to know the rules of the road. Then you can avoid potential situations and get on with the fun of being out there with all that sky, sun, water, family and friends.