Honolulu Star Bulletin 09/14/02)
By Ray Pendleton
At least twice a year this column is devoted to making a sales pitch for a worthy cause for Hawaii's boaters: saving their lives.
And because I've been told my past efforts have had some measure of success, I'll try once again to convince those who haven't enrolled in the Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron's safe boating course.
After all, nationwide, more than four million people have already taken the course.
To begin with, it should be apparent to anyone who pays attention to the news in our islands that practicing safe boating is not an inherent trait in all those who venture offshore.
If it were, I'm sure we would see far fewer stories about boaters who were lost at sea (and only sometimes rescued) after their engine/sail/fuel, or good reasoning failed them.
No, safe boating practices are learned and one of the easiest and quickest ways to learn them is to spend one evening a week, for seven weeks, taking the squadron's nationally acclaimed safe boating course.
The course begins with students learning basic boating terminology and the differences between sail and power boats in hull design and construction.
Then the students are taught the fundamentals of sail and power boat handling and elementary seamanship. This includes instruction in taking on fuel, casting off from the dock, turning and stopping, boating courtesy, docking, anchoring, handling adverse conditions and even first aid.
Because a major part of the boating public is comprised of trailer boat owners, the Squadron also devotes class time to trailer operations, maneuvering and vehicle requirements.
Another learning segment covers legal issues such as state, national and international boating laws and regulations, and includes emergency procedures, fire prevention and pollution control.
Identifying and using aids to navigation is also taught, along with the basic boat piloting skills of speed-time-distance calculations, dead reckoning, course-plotting and taking compass bearings.
And for safe near-shore and offshore navigating, the effects of tides and currents and maneuvering near bridges, breakwaters and jetties are also among the subjects discussed.
Operating marine VHF radios, using proper calling procedures and proper channels is another segment of the course, together with instruction on Citizen's Band (CB) radios.
As understanding weather predictions and conditions are fundamental to safe boating, these, along with storm classifications and their specific hazards are additional class topics.
The course wraps up with a class on marine engine troubleshooting for inboards, outboards and diesels, along with tips regarding their fuel, ignition and cooling systems. The need for having spare parts and tools aboard is also stressed.
The first boating safety class will be held this Monday at 7 p.m. at the Waikiki Yacht Club, near the entrance of Ala Moana Park, near Atkinson Dr. But because of limited seating, it is advised you call 846-9000 today to register.
The classes are free, except for a nominal charge for instruction materials, and they are open to anyone teenaged and up.
Taking the course can lower your boaters' insurance rates, but moreover, it could just save your life.
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