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Boating Safety


Point Hudson Marina at Port Townsend

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Now that you have decided to take up boating, whether it's power, or sail, or manually propelled boats, there are some things you need to know.  You need to know these things not only to be safe on the water, but to make it safer for all those others out there with you as well. 

Boating is a lot of fun.  Boating is also a means to other sports such as fishing, diving, hunting, and water skiing. But boating can also be dangerous at times and so you need to know what to do to maximize the fun in boating while minimizing the risks. Every year there are thousands of boating accidents, and about seven hundred fatalities.  In years past these numbers were much larger, but through a combination of boating safety education, engineering safer boats, and enforcing boating laws, the number of accidents and fatalities have decreased by over 50% since 1972.  This has been a combined effort of the U. S. Coast Guard, U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U. S. Power Squadron,   the boating authorities in each state (NASBLA), the boating industry (NMMA), the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), and a host of other boating groups dedicated to boating and to making it safe for everyone. 

Other countries such as Canada, Australia, the European Union, and Japan all have similar programs to make boating safer for their citizens.  Boating is an international pastime and dates back hundreds of years. In fact the term yacht comes from the Dutch word jacht, which was a small fast boat used in Holland, several hundred years ago, and was soon the choice of many for recreational sailing. Cleopatra had her barge, and Kings and Queens have had their own boats, but this is no longer the sport of royalty and the rich alone. It is enjoyed by millions around the world.  In the United States it is enjoyed by about 70 million people of every income bracket, and every occupation.  It truly is a national recreational pastime.

Boating Safety Education:  Basically there are three types of training;

Formal Education: that is "book learning".  Classes, on-line courses, and books.

Practical Training:  This is what we call seamanship.  How to handle your boat safely, how to maneuver it, how to sail (if it's a sail boat) and how to deal with emergencies and weather. For those using large bodies of water, navigation is an important part of this training.  You can't just rely on GPS.  You need to know how to determine where you are, and get yourself home safely without electronic aids.

Mechanical Training:  Learning how your boat works,   and how to fix it.  You may not want to work on your boat, but in an emergency you will need to know how.  You can't just park it and walk away. 

So I will begin with the basics: nomenclature, boating terms,  i.e.  the names of things. Why do you need to know this?  Every occupation or pastime has its' own language. The same is true of boats.  It goes way beyond learning the bow from the stern,

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