While boating and being on the water is a fun activity, it can also feel daunting. Whether you’re a new or seasoned boater, it’s important to consider boating education. Not only will it improve your safety, but it will also introduce you to new skills that can improve your time on the water.
Here are some important factors to consider before signing up for boating classes:
Find a class that provides hands-on learning…ON the boat.
There are plenty of boating education courses to choose from, but most do not offer on-the-water training. When learning boating skills, there is no replacement for getting behind the wheel and creating some new muscle memory.
Several boating courses will have an afternoon session in a classroom. While this knowledge may be helpful, it’s not going to provide confidence in a live situation on the water. It’s important to learn how to use your boat and all equipment on the boat so you feel comfortable.
This is something that Chicago Yacht Academy offers – courses both in the classroom and on the water, driving a boat!
Ask about the instructor and if the classes are certified
Ask about the instructor. Make sure to ask about their qualifications and experience. Ask whether their qualifications and if they are certified by any national organizations such as U.S Coast Guard or American Sailing Association.
Ask about curriculum and certifications. Chicago Yacht Academy offers certifications but, believe it or not, this is not the norm! There are a significant number of courses offered all over the country that may be faster and cheaper, but you may not be getting the full benefits.
Ask what’s included in the cost of the course
Price ranges are significant in boating education, and there is a reason for it. Not only should you ask what’s included in the course in terms of time and materials, but there are likely other perks that you may not be aware of such as:
- Do you get an insurance break once the course is completed?
- What certifications do you get?
- Am I going to learn skills that will apply to the style and size of boat that I’m interested in driving?
- Am I going to learn about my local waters?
Make sure the course covers water safety, boat handling, and navigation.
There is a lot to be covered with boating education, but these items should be high on your list. Water safety covers the basics of staying safe on the water: how to get into and out of boats safely, what to do in case of emergency situations and how to use safety equipment.
Boat handling is about understanding how your vessel works – how it moves through water, how it turns into wind or current, and knowing how best to operate it in different circumstances to avoid accidents.
Navigation is about knowing where you are at any given time so that if anything goes wrong with your boat’s electronics system during bad weather conditions (or any other reason) there will be no question where help is needed.
If you want to go out on the water and be safe, it’s important that you know what you are doing. The good news? We offer plenty of classes right here. Our own Chicago Yacht Academy is the highest accredited USPowerboating facility in the Midwest. Our curriculum provides the complete boaters’ education as determined by USSailing, USPowerboating, NASBLA, The National On the Water Standards and the USCG. We also offer International Yacht Certification classes for international charter licenses as well as private lessons and more.