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The benefits of taking in-depth boating courses

Aug 24, 2020

In-depth boating courses can prepare you for safe boating practices

Imagine a new boating family standing on the dock at Granville Island. The day’s activities are planned: a cruise on their recently acquired powerboat to picturesque Indian Arm for a delicious lunch in somewhat splendid isolation. Sounds like a fabulous time. However, the new boater must navigate Canada’s busiest seaport just to get there.

But this boater will be fine because they’ve taken several in-depth boating courses. This boater understands and follows the marine rules of the road, and knows the Canadian Aids to Navigation System (buoys, lights, signs, and signals). This day trip most likely will be a success. In these times of COVID-19 and increased boat traffic, the same might not be said for other new boaters putting instant gratification ahead of the virtual classroom.

As often as we’ve heard the unfortunate news of businesses in dire straits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are  learning about several sectors experiencing record sales. Recreational boat dealers say business has been booming and some even worried they might not have the inventory to keep up with demand this season.

 

Escape the new normal with a boat trip

The recent surge in boat sales is surely a sign to expect all levels of boating experience on British Columbia’s waters through the rest of summer and into fall. British Columbians are realizing the benefits of boating during the COVID-19 pandemic; the opportunity to escape our “new normal” routines and whisk our family and friends away on crowd-less adventures while discovering the glorious views of our local waters and coastlines.

But, before launch must come boating education, and once complete, boaters will reap all the benefits this critical education offers.

The boating exam is only the beginning

All pleasure craft operators are required to complete the boaters exam in order to obtain their Pleasure Craft Operators Card (PCOC) which essentially is official Transport Canada accredited basic proof of competency to operate a power-driven vessel of any size in Canada. By completing this basic exam (roughly one hour’s time), a pleasure craft operator is embarking on an educational journey that will build both their boating skills and confidence. The boaters exam is available online, and after passing, your PCOC is valid for life, and please take note; it’s enforceable, so always keep it handy every time you launch your boat.

Basic proof of competency is just that: basic. Safely operating a boat goes well beyond the one hour course to obtain the PCOC. As serene as a boat gliding along the water seems, make no mistake, danger can always be right around the bend courtesy of a myriad of conditions that, if you are not properly prepared, could easily result in loss of life, serious injury and property destruction to yourself and to others. Remember, even receiving emergency assistance often becomes more complicated out on the water.

Certified courses in boating basics and navigation

Boating courses will instruct boaters on safety equipment and proper use, docking, trailer management, and proper boat maintenance to help ensure a smooth launch every time. Navigation/ course charting courses will prepare a boater for planning safe day trips and excursions. Realistic planning and preparedness have a good habit of reducing stress in our bodies. Another benefit of obtaining a more in-depth boating education is it should increase our personal level of enjoyment and decrease stress in the process. 

Canada Power & Sail Squadron offer a variety of navigation courses that level up. Introductory navigation studies include Global positioning, chart symbols and their meaning, the magnetic compass, navigation by conning (visual reference using landmarks), electronic navigation with a GPS and Chartplotter.  Advanced navigation courses include Introduction to Marine Navigation, Near Shore and Offshore Marine Navigation. The more experience a boater acquires, the more they may want to expand the length and distance of their trips, and mastering these navigation courses will be extremely beneficial to safety and enjoyment for boat operators and their passengers.

VHF Marine radio operating certificate

It almost goes without saying that good boating communication begins before departure by informing friends and family where your boat is headed and that route you have plotted to take. Possessing the training and certification to correctly operate a VHF marine radio takes good boating communication to another level. A marine radio operator course teaches boaters emergency radio procedures, Global Marine Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), and general, everyday operation techniques that will ultimately provide boaters more peace of mind on the water knowing they possess the necessary skills to communicate quickly and effectively in all nautical situations. Cooper Boating in Vancouver has upcoming courses through to November of this year.

Boating courses and experience can reduce boat insurance

Building confidence in your boating skills is one of the most important benefits of boating. The more courses and certifications under a mariner’s belt can also lead to another welcome benefit: reduced boat insurance rates. Age, experience and a good anti-theft alarm system aren’t the only criteria insurance brokers are examining to assess risk. 

Novice boaters, beware; the Marine Liability Act in Canada says that a boater is responsible for up to $1.5 million dollars in the event of an accident they caused. That sum of money could easily break anyone, therefore, the more in-depth boating education and subsequently improved skills, the less risk of causing harmful and costly accidents. 

It’s quite possible the current global pandemic will still be around come next spring and summer, and boating will continue to be an “in-demand” activity. It’s in the boat dealer’s best interest to direct their customers in the right direction towards certified boating courses, and it’s in the customer’s best interest to enroll, complete and pass each one.  With almost 26,000 Kilometres of coastline, British Columbia needs as many educated, certified and informed boaters as it can get.