Fishing & Boating News

On the Dock with Rick Smith

Boater 101

by: Rick Smith,

(left to right): Billy Conway, Patrick McCarty, Bob Kujan, Mark Prentice, Captain Ned Stone and Rick Smith
Photo by Rick Smith
(left to right:) Bob Kujan, Cpt. Ned Stone and Patrick McCarty going through the on the water training at Franks Marina on Lake Belton, Belton, TX
Photo by Rick Smith
(Aug. 02, 2010 - Temple, TX) Water safety is important to all of us: power boaters, sailors, fishermen, swimmers, divers and hunters. For this reason the marine industry has made a commitment to bring the water safety message to everyone. Common sense is common only if you have had the experience. So it is important to train instructors that can go out to the community to educate everyone how important it is to be safe anytime you are around the water. It has been said that water is the strongest force on earth and anyone who has seen a flooded river knows exactly how true this statement is.

A group of outdoor enthusiasts recently took a day out of their busy schedules to attend a one day training seminar at Frank's Marina on Lake Belton. Captain Ned Stone of Florida representing Marine University's Boater 101 course visited only two cities in Texas-Austin and Belton-to train and certify local boating safety instructors. The course was provided through a grant in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Program. The Belton seminar consisted of four hours of classroom review and two hours of on the water hands on training. Five future instructors, Billy Conway, Bob Kujan, Patrick McCarty all from Belton, Mark Prentice of Harker Heights, and I, participated.

After the course the students then take an on-line exam to receive their certifications. On completion of the course each instructor will be asked to teach a boating safety class. The class will last approximately eight hours with four of the hours being in the classroom and four being on the water. The goals of this program are to give boaters a basic overview of boating while having fun and promoting water safety. In many states this training is mandatory but in Texas it is only required for boaters ages 13 to 18 who wish to operate a boat by themselves.

Students are taught the types of boats, navigation rules, what safety equipment is required and its proper use, how to file a float plan, boat handling, rescue procedures, distress signals and proper launching techniques for trailable boats. Other subjects include the new rules as set by the Department of Homeland Security, weather, tides and environmental concerns.

Courses are set to start in September with classes being offered for ladies only, youth only, families and individuals. The cost of the course is set by the individual instructor and will include all training materials, the on-line exam and on the water training. Special discounts will be available for families and groups taking the course together. The boats used for training and all safety equipment will be furnished by the instructor. Some area marine dealers will be offering to pay the cost of instruction to customers who have purchased their boats from their dealerships. Most insurance companies will offer a 10% annual reduction in premiums for graduates of the program. Of course the real benefit will be the knowledge and confidence that the graduate will have when on the water making our lakes, rivers and bays a safer place for all.

Information on class locations, dates and times will be available after August 15th on-line at the keepthemswimming website. More information on Boater 101 may be found at the Boater101 website.