Staff Report

In November, 10 graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s “Sailing Skills and Seamanship” class gathered together at the Tampa Sailing Squadron to celebrate their achievement.  “Sailing Skills and Seamanship” is one of the most extensive boating courses presented by the Auxiliary, as well as one of their longest with 17 chapters presented over 14 weeks.


“This was my best class ever,” said Guy Mandigo, lead instructor and flotilla commander of auxiliary flotilla 75, which serves Ruskin, Apollo Beach, Sun City and Riverview. “They rarely missed a class, which is astonishing considering the busy lives we all lead.”


Some of the topics included in this challenging course include safe boat handling, nautical rules of the road, an introduction to navigation, weather, lines and knots, and the correct use of equipment on a boat, with an emphasis on the radio.


Sailing Skills and Seamanship student, Elizabeth Hunter, said, “Soon after I started this course, I realized what little I had known about sailing and boating safety.  Now, I feel much more confident about sailing with friends and, with more practice, feel that someday I can sail all by myself.”


Florida leads the Nation in boating deaths with over 14 percent of the national total according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Survey on Boating Accidents. Over 70 percent of boat operators involved in accidents never had formal recreational boating safety education. Particularly for new boaters going out into the bay can present a bewildering array of navigational signs or even how to properly call for assistance on a marine radio.


Florida does not mandate either boating safety training or licenses for all boat owners. Florida law requires that only persons born on or after January 1, 1988, complete an approved boater education course prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more. Even if not required by law to get the license, many boaters take the boating safety course in order to save on their PWC or boat insurance. Long-time boaters often remark on how much they have forgotten over the years.


The Auxiliary’s basic and highly condensed course, “About Boating Safely,” meets the Fish and Wildlife requirement to obtain a Boating Safety I.D. card.  The next class is scheduled for Saturday, January 10, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at E.G. Simmons Park.


For more information or to register, call 641-2488.


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