By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
TITUSVILLE -- The responsibility of being a safe boater rests not only on motorized watercraft operators, but on those, who enjoy paddle sports, as well.
On Saturday, Sept. 14, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 17-09, will host Paddle Sports America, a safety class for paddlecraft operators, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Due to construction at Sand Point Park in Titusville, where the Flotilla is located, the course will be hosted at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Titusville.
Cost for the course is $15.
Instructing Paddle Sports America is Jim Roche, a certified captain and retired member of the U.S. Coast Guard.
"I joined the Coast Guard in June of 1986 and retired in December 2006," Capt. Roche said. "My current roles with the USCG Auxiliary are as the Public Education Officer and Immediate Task Commander."
This is Capt. Roche's fourth year teaching the Paddle Sports America course, which happens to be the only course of its kind in Brevard County.
"Paddle Sports America is a great class, with many benefits for the beginner," said Mike LeBlanc, public affairs officer for Flotilla 17-09. "Learning the right way to operate your craft, and it's a good refresher course for someone, who has been away from the sport for a while."
Information covered in Paddle Sports America focuses on watercraft including kayaks, canoes and increasingly popular stand-up paddleboards.
"If it comes with a paddle, I teach about the safety and laws regarding such vessels," Capt. Roche said. "Paddleboarding is something that I'm adding to the course because the American Canoe Association hasn't added a specific paddleboarding course."
Capt. Roche added that a lot of people don't see paddlesports being nearly as risky as motorized sports.
"For as much fun as paddlesports are, they are equally as dangerous," he said. "People can take their safety for granted and think that, because they're in a boat, they can be seen."
However, Capt. Roche added that those traveling in motorized boats can't always see people in canoes, kayaks and paddleboards until it's -- sometimes -- too late.
"There is some danger that goes along with paddlesports and, sadly, people have lost their lives," Capt. Roche said.
Capt. Roche will instruct students on the importance of knowing the type of paddlecraft they are operating, what to do before getting on the water, how to safely operate the paddlecraft, legal requirements of boating and what to do in boating emergencies.
Students will also receive a booklet, including a boating safety guide, as well as Federal laws, brochures about the environment and much more.
"This is an important course for people, who enjoy being on the water," Capt. Roche said.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 17-09, will host Paddle Sports America on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.
The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot is located at 4735 Helen Hauser Blvd., Titusville.
For more information, contact Jim Roche at (321) 383-9347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.