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Part Seven Boating Safety

Proper Training Yields Fun Times on the Water

Did you know that you can get a discount on your boat insurance if you take a boater safety education course?

Insurance companies, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and most states strongly urge boaters to get educated in boating safety. Though only four states require operator licenses, most require that boaters take safety courses and/or earn a boat operating certification. Getting educated on the ABCs of boating will help ensure an enjoyable experience on the water, and taking a safety course has never been easier.

There are numerous convenient ways to take a boating course: online, CD-ROM, videotape, in-class or textbook. Online courses are the most popular, and the USCG and the U.S. Power Squadron have approved several, basic, electronic boating courses ¿ two of which are America's Boating Course (ABC) and Boat-Ed. Each offers the flexibility to study at your own pace at anyplace a computer is available. However, if you prefer a traditional classroom setting and/or independent textbook study, the U.S. Power Squadron offers courses through these venues as well. Prices will vary from free to around $50 or less. Contact individual organizations for details.

ABC: Web-based or CD-ROM

Approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), ABC is available on CD-ROM or online and offers an easy-to-follow color manual and a virtual mentor. The content is designed for skippers and crews and for all types of watercraft. The course material covers seven chapters, which touch on general information about boats and maintenance, safety information, courteous boating tips and laws and regulations. Below are some subjects covered:

    • Knowing Your Boat

    • Powerboats, Sailboats and PWCs

    • Filing a Float Plan

    • Fueling and Maintaining Your Boat

    • Trailering Your Boat

    • Navigation Rules

    • Navigation Lights

    • Finding Your Way

    • Operating a Boat Safely

    • Casting Off and Docking

    • Anchoring

    • State and Federal Requirements

    • What to Do in Emergencies

    • Enjoying Water Sports

     ABC's advantages:

    • Available wherever and whenever desired and moves at any pace

    • Jointly sponsored by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons, is approved by NASBLA, and is recognized by the USCG

    • Includes free assistance from an experienced local member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons

    • One purchase allows an entire family to study, with a nominal cost for additional exams

    • Available on the Internet, on CD-ROM and (for those who prefer face-to-face interaction) as a classroom course

    • Includes an optional test accepted for boating safety education certificates in most states

    • Gives printable resources and links for use after the course is completed

Boat-Ed: Web-Based or Videotape

Another online boating safety course available with tests for state boating licenses and/or boating safety certification is Boat-Ed. Like ABC, it offers safe boating courses that improve water safety and boating skills. The direct connection with state boards meets those special needs that boaters have for local information on regulation and licensing and certification requirements. In addition, it can qualify you for a discount on your boat insurance with most insurance providers. Boat and PWC courses are offered with these options:

    • Online boating safety courses with online boater certification tests for your state.

    • Home-study video boating education courses for your state.

    • Information on classroom boat safety classes in your state.

    • Boating Safety Course Pretest

The video and online boating safety courses found on this site are approved by the state agencies responsible for boating and by the NASBLA and are recognized by the USCG. All of the boating courses satisfy the mandatory boater education certification required by law in most states. Certification cards, received by passing these safety courses, are recognized by most waterway officers.

Whether its ABC, Boat-Ed or some other safe-boating training course, electronic media courses are ideal for boaters with heavy evening schedules or travel responsibilities, casual boaters who want basic boating knowledge but don't need a "captain-level course," or experienced boaters who need a refresher course.

The U.S. Power Squadron: Traditional Learning

The Squadron Boating Course is a traditional civic service of the United States Power Squadrons organization. Since 1914, local squadrons have educated more than three million people attending their classes on safe boating.

Two courses, The Squadron Boating Course and Boat Smart, are both designed for all boaters, from the fisherman in an outboard to the skipper of a large cruiser or sailboat. All boaters are subject to nautical rules and regulations and should learn and respect traditional boating courtesies. The courses are meant to be of interest to the entire family; older children (those who can benefit from a classroom environment) are welcome. In fact, they encourage family attendance. The Squadron Boating Course contains 16 sections. Boat Smart contains three. Both require homework at the end of each section to assist retention.

In addition to the topics covered in the ABC and Boat-Ed courses, The Squadron Boating Course covers additional topics such as an introduction to reading charts and plotting courses (Chart Smart). Chart Smart is available as a separate course as well. See below for more information on courses available in your area.

Video Class

Seeing is believing, so if you prefer video learning, you can obtain the USPS Video Boating Course. Plus, Additional USPS Educational Materials are available to the public, and advanced courses are available for their members. See below for more information on video resources.

Book Knowledge

If you prefer the feel of the pages in a book, learning guides and other materials are available from the U.S. Power Squadrons headquarters. Members can receive these items at a reduced rate through their Squadron Educational Officer. USPS learning guides are also available to the public at various marine supply stores. These guides may be used in a training program, as a "how-to" manual or as simply another source of information on a given topic. Go to their website for a description of the materials available.

Some say education is the key to empowerment. Certainly, in regards to boating safely this is true. Get the edge on a fun-filled summer on the waters. Get educated and boat safely. It's important, and your increased confidence will enhance your overall enjoyment of the boating experience.

Bibliography:

    • Americas Boating Course (ABC)

    • Boat Ed

    • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

    • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

    • United States Power Squadron (USPS)

Sea Ray is proud to offer this safety information to increase your boating safety and enjoyment. These documents are provided for your personal information only, and you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any of these materials shall be at your sole risk. Sea Ray reserves the right, in its sole discretion and without any obligation, to make improvements to, or correct any error or omissions, in any portion of the information. Sea Ray hereby disclaims all liability to the maximum extent permitted by law in relation to this information and does not give any warranties, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any of the information provided.

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