Learning the basics of boat operation and safety is best done before your first trip to the marina or launch ramp. In fact, a number of states require powerboat operators to take a boating education course and carry a license or certificate proving successful course completion any time they're underway. Learning the rules of the road is the easy part. Applying them is something completely different. You can read all of the articles take all of the online courses and still find yourself perplexed when it comes time to cast off.
Take a Boating Course
There are countless ways to take a boating course and resources are found everywhere. Online, in person and at your local USCG auxiliary office are the most popular. You will get the rules of the road, how to read channel markers, and basics of navigation. All of these boating courses provide theory and antidotes on actual boat operation, what to watch for and how to be safe. They will teach you about tides, currents, weather and seas. They are worth every penny of time and the minimal cost to complete.
Driving a boat is not like driving a car. You learned to drive with an experienced driver sitting in the passenger seat giving you guidance and suggestions. You learn math from a teacher and you are good at your job because someone else showed you how to do it properly. A good captain should be thought of the same way. Captains can save you time, money and frustration by offering the same guidance you have sought in all other aspects of life. The learning curve between on-water training and figuring it out on your own is huge. You will learn as much in 8 hours with a captain as you would figure out in 8 weeks on your own. You will be more confident sooner and avoid creating bad habits as well as a costly mistake of a grounding or collision with a dock or other boat.
Captain and crew
Not everyone wants or needs someone else to run the boat. Many boaters have loads of experience with plenty of successful trips under their cap. Boating is a lot of work, to say the least and most boaters would much rather spend their time boating than working on boating. This is where a captain and /or crew can play a big role in making boating better. The most obvious is boating while drinking. Most boating outings involve alcohol on some level even if it is on another boat. Drinking and boating are not a safe mix as any experienced boater knows. Having a mate or captain available to take the wheel and let the boaters enjoy the day without worry is better for everyone. Prepping for a day out and cleaning up after are both chores that can be easily and frequently better performed by a trustworthy captain or crew member.
US Power Squadron was organized in 1914, USPS is a non profit, educational organization dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching classes in seamanship, navigation and related subjects.
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has worked to provide quality service, savings, and representation to the boating community since 1966. The BoatUS Foundation is the only FREE online safety course developed specifically for individual states.
Confident Captainis a professional, hands-on boating instruction, safety training, professional mariner course company based in Newport, RI.
US POWERBOATING™ is the nation's leading, on-the-water organization, offering courses for powerboat operators and is an affiliate of US SAILING, the national governing body for the sport of sailing.