3 Boating Courses to Take You Beyond the Basics
Posted by Safeco July 25, 2016
Advanced Boating Courses Help Increase Your Safety and Expand Your Range
Whether you’ve been boating all your life or you’re just getting your feet wet, your state most likely requires you to complete some sort of boating certification – kind of like getting a driver’s license.
You’ll start with the basics, learning about such things as: safety equipment including life jackets and navigation lights; safe operation and rules of the waterways; and how to respond to emergencies such as capsizing and fire.
It’s essential knowledge. But, of course, there’s much, much more you can learn to enhance your enjoyment and safety. Once you’ve received your basic certification (check with your state boating authority about what’s required), consider these three types of classes to further your command of boating skills:
- Weather for Boaters
There’s no place to hide if you’re on the open water when a thunderstorm strikes. Even with all the services available through modern technology, rapidly changing conditions can still take you by surprise. A weather class targeted to boaters can teach you to read the warning signs and anticipate changes in wind, fog and precipitation. It can also teach you how to respond if you’re caught out in bad weather.
Taking a weather class for boaters can help you:
- Find out how to get the best and latest forecast information for your specific area.
- Learn how to interpret a weather map.
- Decode the different messages signaled by flat clouds, puffy clouds and clouds like thunderheads with extreme vertical development.
- Advanced Boating Navigation
Knowledge of navigation greatly expands the areas open to you for exploring, fishing and recreation. Courses may be offered at several different levels but will generally start with aspects of piloting, including reading nautical charts, plotting courses and the basics of Global Positioning System (GPS). In communities near the ocean, your course will put more emphasis on coastal navigation. Classes in the interior of the country will put more time into inland waterways: rivers, locks and lakes. Advanced students may delve into offshore navigation, and using the sun and stars with a sextant for celestial navigation.
A complete series of navigation courses will provide instruction in:
- Determining your exact position.
- How to set a course while taking tides and currents into account.
- Using a range of navigation tools, from GPS and long-range navigation (LORAN) to compass and sextant.
- Planning a Cruise
It might be an overnight trip across the lake or a week along the river — or it could be something much longer and farther. No matter how soon you’re coming back, your cruise is going to be a lot more fun, safer and more comfortable if you invest some time in learning how to plan and prepare. The skills required for a successful cruise will be as varied as setting an anchor and selecting a crew, planning meals and provisioning the boat for voyages far from any grocery store. You will need to know about proper safety equipment and how to respond to different emergencies.
A cruise planning class will teach you:
- How to execute the kind of cruise you are envisioning.
- How to enter a foreign port, and to clear it properly on the return home.
- Voyage management and boat security.
It’s important to start with the basics, and it’s vital to learn from your experiences on the water. But, you don’t want to leave it to personal experience to teach you everything about seamanship. After all, centuries of boating knowledge are available in the classroom and online. You can even continue your studies with courses on more advanced navigation, marine electronics and environmental stewardship after tackling the subjects above.
Learn More About Your Watercraft Coverage With A Policy Review
As you learn more about boating, you may be inspired to learn more about your boating policy. It may be a good time to review your watercraft insurance with an independent agent, who can help you find ways to save on boat insurance and make sure you have all the protection you want. Be sure to ask about savings for taking an approved boating course, such as through the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), U.S. Power Squadrons or Coast Guard Auxiliary. Classes range from online or home study courses to classroom or hands-on-training.