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'Spring Aboard' Week Highlights Boater Safety Coursess

Phot via Flickr// Florida FWC

This is “Spring Aboard” week, as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages boaters to enroll in a boating education course.

According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, figures from 2014 show the level of operator education was known, 82% of boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had never received any boating instruction.

It’s a simple concept, says Brian Rehwinkle at FWC; an educated boater is a safer boater.

“What you see with boating, and this is true for most any pursuit,” says Rehwinkle, “is the more you know about how to operate some of the risks and how to mitigate those risks, it makes sense that you’re going to be safer if you’re better prepared with knowledge.”

All of the approved boater safety courses in Florida meet national standards. But the different course providers may have different ways of teaching them. One of the lessons that the courses teach, says Rehwinkle, is that boating is not like driving a car on the highway.

“Obviously, on highways you have markers, lines; you have a lot of directional signs, you have reflectors on the highway.” says Rehwinkle. “These are things you’re not going to find on the waterway. The boating courses give you an idea of some of the things, what I would call ‘tips’ on the water.”

Many course providers offer incentives or course discounts for students who enroll in or complete a course during the Spring Aboard campaign, which cover a large amount of ground – er – water.

“The basic layout of the boat; trailering the boat, learning how to dock a boat,” Rehwinkle said. “Learning about currents, tides and wind, and how that may affect your boat on the water. How to deal with emergencies; equipment requirements, [and] best practices.”

Boaters have a number of ways to take a boating course -- from classroom sessions offered by the U-S Coast Guard Auxiliary and Power Squadrons, to online instruction. Rehwinkle says there are courses that fit everyone’s schedule and budget. More information is available at www.myfwc.com.