How to save your nautical loved-one's life

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (1/06/01)
By Ray Pendleton

Over the years, this column has periodically periodic pitched to Hawaii's recreational boaters the wisdom of taking a safe boating course from the U.S. Power Squadron.

Hoping to provoke boater interest in these classes, I have traditionally noted the advantages any skipper - new or experienced - can gain by taking the course. Avoiding disasters at sea and lowered insurance rates are just two of the most obvious.

But every time there is another news story of boaters being rescued - or lost - in situations they might have avoided with proper boating knowledge, I wonder if I've been pitching the right person.

Perhaps it isn't the boater, but the boater's loved-ones who should be sold on enhancing their skipper's seamanship. After all, it's they who will put their life in the captain's hands when they go along for a ride, and they who will be left to grieve if tragedy strikes the boater alone.

Accordingly, the following information is directed to anyone who is close to an active or potential seafarer.

For seven consecutive Mondays, beginning at 7 p.m. on Jan. 15, the Honolulu Power Squadron will again offer its popular safe boating course at the Waikiki Yacht Club.

The course is open to anyone teenaged and up, and it's free, except for a nominal charge for instruction materials. Also, boat ownership is not required.

A good way to determine if your seafarer could use this course might be by assessing his or her present knowledge of the course's class subjects.

The first class will begin with basic boating terminology and design concepts, such as hull types and sail versus power boat construction.

Once these fundamentals have been covered, general boat handling and elementary seamanship for power and sail will be taught. This will include instruction in fueling, casting off, turning and stopping, boating courtesy, docking, anchoring, adverse conditions and first aid.

Because so many of Hawaii's boaters own trailered boats, the Power Squadron will also provide information on vehicle requirements and trailer operation and maneuvering.

Students will then be versed in the various state, national and international boating laws and regulations, including those dealing with emergency procedures, fire prevention and pollution control.

At another class, boat navigation rules will be discussed and aids to navigation will be identified. Basic boat piloting skills, such as speed-time-distance calculations, dead reckoning, course-plotting and taking compass bearings, will be included.

Coastal and even inland boating situations will be expounded upon.

Other subjects to be covered are tides, currents, inlets, bridges, dikes/dams/jetties, reading rivers and lock operations.

Students will also learn how to operate a marine radio using correct calling procedures and channels for everyday and emergency usage. Citizens' Band (CB) radios will also be discussed.

Understanding weather reports and the effects of weather to the recreational boater will be another class topic. Storm classifications and their hazards will be defined.

Finally, a session on engine troubleshooting will be given, with tips on inboards, outboards and diesels. Their fuel, ignition and cooling systems will be discussed, along with what spare parts and tools should always be on board.

Seating for this safe boating course is limited, so anyone hoping to enroll should call 846-9000. And, it just might be the call that saved a life.

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