Winter is perfect time to take a boating course

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Wintertime is the best time to take a course. You aren’t able to get out on the water and you really can’t even work on your boat very much, so now is the time before you get busy in the spring.

Who should take a course? First of all, anyone born after 1986 who is planning to operate a boat in Rhode Island. By law, you cannot run a powerboat in Rhode Island without the RI State Boating Card, which you can get by successfully completing a course. Also anyone, whenever you were born, needs the card to operate a personal watercraft (PWC). But the course isn’t just so you will comply with the law. Your main goal should be safety on the water for you and your family. The class teaches you safety, rules, and many tips for making your boating season enjoyable.

Courses provided by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary North Star Flotilla are as close as Toll Gate High School in Warwick. Actually there are three courses that start at the end of February. Do you think you can put in five or six hours and know all you need to know? Of course not. That’s why these courses meet twice a week for 8 weeks. Each night you will have a presentation, hands-on reinforcement, a chance to ask questions, and even a proctor room where, over a cup of coffee, you can get one-on-one extra help on any point that may not have been clear to you. Do you think you can learn navigation all in one night? How much of it do you think you would remember when you need to put it to use?

In these courses we have a navigation session for half an hour each night. You’ll see how to chart a course at home and then follow your course on the water. We use charts of Narragansett Bay etc. You’ll become familiar with the symbols so you can look out for rocks or wrecks just under the surface and be able to take ranges on lighthouses. During class you and a partner can practice with guidance at hand, so you will be confident when you are on your own. We also include electronic navigation.

Navigation isn’t all you need to know. Boat handling in every situation is a primary skill. Your instructors will take you through many scenarios including docking and maneuvering under difficult circumstances, tying up your boat so it doesn’t hit the dock as the tide and wind change.  Our visual aids will help you remember the Aids to Navigation buoys etc. To operate safely and be within the law you’ll need our Federal Regulations lesson. We’ll give you the latest booklet of RI Regulations too. You need to know what safety equipment is required for your boat, how to choose from the wide range of personal flotation devices (PFD’s), flares, sound signals, engine requirements, etc. There is instruction for those of you planning to operate a jet ski, with its special regulations. Other nights are spent on weather, trailering, engines, radio, lines and knots, and much more. If you are still in the boat selection process, there is even a lesson on advantages and disadvantages on different types of boats, besides an opportunity to talk to the instructors and other students and hear their opinions.

Besides the power course, we have a sail course and an advanced navigation course, running at the same time in adjacent classrooms, so one family member can take one while another can be enrolled in a different class. For more information, or to register, visit the website  www.northstarflotilla.com  or call Nick at 401-739-6028.

In any case, now is the time for a course.

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