Honolulu Star Bulletin 01/04/03)
By Ray Pendleton
If you are a recreational boater in Hawai`i, have you made an appropriate New Year's resolution?
If not, why not make a quick assessment of your boating skills and, if they're a little less than perfect, consider making it your New Year's resolution to become a better boater?
After all, there are a number of good reasons why anyone who takes a boat offshore in this island state should be as good and knowledgeable as they can be.
For starters, there's the boater's own personal safety and well being.
There are many places in the world where a small judgment error while boating will just end inconveniently. But, in Hawai`i, a small error could send a boater off on a long uninterrupted drift over thousands of miles of open ocean.
Another concern should be for the guests a boater invites on board. Knowing friends or family have been injured, or worse, due to their neglect, would be a tough thing for most boaters to live with, I'm sure.
And, although Hawai`i's waters are not as crowded as in many other states, boaters here must nevertheless be concerned over the safety of others around them. That includes other boaters, of course, as well as swimmers, surfers, divers and paddlers.
Skillful boating also includes protecting the environment. Knowledge of proper fueling techniques can prevent spills that pollute our waters and good navigation techniques can prevent groundings that destroy reefs as well as boats.
Perhaps the easiest way for boaters who have resolved to become better skilled this year is to sign up for the Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron's seven-week safe boating course.
The first class begins with elementary boating terminology and boat design concepts for both sail and power vessels.
After these fundamentals have been covered, the class turns to general boat handling and basic seamanship. Instruction in fueling, casting off, turning, stopping, boating courtesy, docking, anchoring and even knot-tying and first aid are included.
As a majority of Hawai`i's registered boats are trailered, the Power Squadron also teaches trailer operations and maneuvering and provides information on tow vehicle requirements.
Applicable international, federal and state boating laws and regulations are covered, including those dealing with navigation, maritime emergencies, fire prevention and pollution.
Basic boat-piloting skills are discussed that include dead reckoning, course-plotting, using a compass and the effects of tides and currents.
The use of marine and Citizens' Band (CB) radios in normal and emergency situations is taught, along with understanding weather forecasts, storm classifications and their associated hazards.
The course finishes with a session explaining engine basics and troubleshooting, together with a list of essential parts and tools needed aboard.
The over four million people who have already taken this free course can attest to its value and and as a fringe benefit, many insurance companies offer discounts to those who complete it.
The first class begins on Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. at the Waikiki Yacht Club, at the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Park. But because of the limited seating, early registration is strongly advised.
Just make your resolution to be a better boater and call 846-9000 right now.
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