For a decade my husband, Scott, wanted a boat. Although he read boating magazines and talked to other boaters, his lack of experience kept him from buying one. When we moved to coastal North Carolina, it was time to learn about boating the correct way. Scott went on the Internet and found that the Americas Boating Course (www.americasboatingcourse.com) was offered in our area by the Fort Macon Sail and Power Squadron (FMSPS).
The course included two days of intensive lectures with Squadron Educational Officer Richard LaPalme, a textbook, CDs of navigational charts and an overview of the course, as well as a proctored exam. It covered safety and emergency issues, boating etiquette, nautical terms, navigational aids, anchoring techniques and approaching a dock. Plus we received a free six-month membership in the U.S. Power Squadrons when we passed.
One month later, we purchased our boat and took advantage of more FMSPS classes and activities. Organized in 2000, the FMSPS is one of 20 N.C. squadrons. I took the Partner in Command seminar, which incorporated lectures with practical application in a boat. We learned to set an anchor, toss a flotation cushion, work the radio, approach a dock, and back out and pull into a slip. Members volunteered their boats and expertise to teach the things needed for the first mate to take over.
US Power Squadrons provide online and regional classes; vessel safety checks; links to weather, tides and currents; local information; and monthly activities promoting boating camaraderie. They are serious about boating education and safety, and serious about having fun on and off the water. Besides demonstrating how to properly shoot a flare or put out a diesel fire with an extinguisher, they also grill a mean burger.
For six consecutive Wednesdays starting Sept. 19,
FMSPS will offer free seminars, for novice to experienced boaters, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the N.C. Maritime Museum, 315 Front St., in Beaufort, N.C. Take four seminars and receive a dinner coupon to the Nov. 19 FMSPS meeting. Visit www.fmsps.org.
To find what educational opportunities are available at your nearest squadrons, visit www.usps.org and click on “About USPS,” then find the area by zip code, state, map or squadron name.
What is the US Power Squadron?
US Power Squadrons will celebrate its centennial in 2014. The non-profit educational organization currently boasts 45,000 members in more than 400 squadrons organized into 33 districts throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Japan. The organization is dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching a dozen courses from navigation and piloting through engine maintenance and marine electronics. It also offers 22 specialist seminars such as anchoring, radar, knots, paddling, boat trailering, GPS usage and rig tuning. In addition to offering boater education and vessel safety checks, members help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintain accurate nautical charts by reporting corrections. USPS is America’s largest non-profit boating organization and has been honored by three presidents for its civic contributions.