By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
COCOA -- Brevard County residents are lucky to enjoy a plethora of water activities throughout the year, and one organization is making sure the community enjoys the Space Coast waterways in a safe and responsible manner.
On Saturday, Jan. 18, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is hosting its Safe Boating course from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The class will be held at Lee Wenner Park in Cocoa.
Cost for the class is $50 per person, which includes all materials and lunch. Family discounts are available, and discount coupons will also be offered at registrations.
"Our Flotilla is just over 50 years old, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary was formed in 1939," said John Kachenmeister, public affairs officer. "When the safe boating class began, I am not certain. We have been hosting the class for quite a while and have gotten pretty good at it."
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary -- the uniformed civilian, volunteer component of Team Coast Guard -- assists active-duty Coast Guard in all of its missions, except for military and direct law enforcement.
Currently, Florida law requires that those born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, complete an approved boater education course before operating a vessel with a motor of 10 horsepower or more.
"Not every boater, at this time, needs to take a safe boating course," Mr. Kachenmeister said. "Only those boaters born after Jan. 1, 1988 and who operate a boat with a 10 horsepower or greater motor need to have the safety course and the attendant Florida license. This would include personal watercraft."
Mr. Kachenmeister added that almost all insurance companies offer discounted premiums for persons who have completed the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Safe Boating course.
The Safe Boating course teachers boaters the basics of boating safely and allows those, who participate, to obtain a Boating Safety Card from both the Auxiliary and the state of Florida.
Some of the topics the course covers include basic nomenclature, nautical terms and types of recreational boats; basic seamanship, handling adverse waves and conditions and the effect of wind; navigation rules, markers, buoys, day-beacons and their meanings; state and federal laws regulating recreational boating and using boats safely in special situations, such as waterskiing or hunting, Mr. Kachenmeister said.
While boating is a popular hobby with many Space Coast residents, there are still many dangers involved; however, knowing what they are in advance is one of the best defenses, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary is ready and willing to teach boaters.
"Our course is taught by seasoned boaters with extensive knowledge of the local waters and most have a few rescues to their credit," Mr. Kachenmeister said. "They can talk about how quickly things can go wrong and how to prevent small problems from turning into big disasters."
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will host its Safe Boating Class on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Lee Wenner Park in Cocoa from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Cost for the class is $50 per person, which includes all materials and lunch.
Discounts are available.
For more information or to reserve a seat in the class, call (877) 835-3760 or visit www.a0701706.uscgaux.info.