Safe-Boating Courses Are Available at Right Price

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (01/09/99)
By Ray Pendleton

It has always seemed a bit strange to me that while no one ever questions the need for licensing automobile drivers, recreational boat operators haven't been required to prove their proficiency in the same manner.

In both cases, the safety of the vehicle, its occupants and the world at large are dependent on the driver's knowledge and ability, and yet, current law allows anyone to get behind the wheel of a boat and roar off across the water.

Naturally, in today's litigation-prone society, insurance companies have usually taken a dim view of that practice. To encourage their clients to improve their boating skills, many of them offer as much as a 15 percent discount on liability coverage to those who have successfully completed certified safe boating courses.

But, of course, licensing requirements or monetary savings shouldn't be the ultimate reason for acquiring proper boating skills. It should be mostly about accepting personal responsibility for your vessel, its safe operation and its occupants.

As with most skills, safe boating comes from a combination of good instruction and practice. So once you have a boat to practice with, where do you get qualified instruction?

On O`ahu, the answer is easy. The Honolulu Power Squadron and the Coast Guard Auxiliary both offer nationally approved safe boating courses.

Starting at 7 p.m. on January 18, the Honolulu Power Squadron - a unit of the U.S. Power Squadron - will once again present their seven-session course at the Waikiki Yacht Club, located at the Diamond Head entrance to Ala Moana Park.

The course is free, other than a nominal charge for study materials, and enrollment is open to teenagers and adults. No boating experience is required, but there is a 20-student limit, so early registration is highly recommended.

The course will cover the following subjects:
Boat types and terms, and additional design aspects.
. Boat handling and elementary seamanship, including knot-tying and first aid.
. Sail rigging and sailing fundamentals.
. Trailer boating, including tow vehicle features and tips on choosing a hitch.
. Maritime rules and regulations, both federal and state.
. Basic navigation, including rules, course piloting and plotting.
. Tides, currents and coastal hazards.
. Marine radiotelephone operations and procedures.
. Marine weather and warnings.
. Inboard and outboard engine troubleshooting.
. Personal watercraft (jet ski) operations. (This new section will likely meet the operator regulations currently being considered by the state.)

To register, or for more information on the Power Squadron's safe boating course, call William McGarry at 422-1963.

For boaters on the windward side, a course similar to the Power Squadron's will again be offered by Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 14, beginning Monday, February 1, in Kailua at Kalaheo High School, 730 Iliana St., Room A-2. Thirteen evening classes will be held from 6:30 to 8:30.

As with the Power Squadron course, the classes are free, but there is a small charge for study materials. All family members are welcome.

Call Bob Airhart at 247-3793 for more information.

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