This is a 5-6 hour program designed to familiarize you with your boat and with the basics of boating.
Firstly – we get on board and introduce ourselves. Then, We go through the boat with you as if you had never stepped on board before.
It is really important that you have a basic familiarization with your vessel. Most of your servicing and repairs will be done via an external contractor (unless you are very hands on) but there are fundamental things that you as the skipper will need to know and check every time you are on your boat.
Common Misconception in Boating
Now – we understand that most people compare boat ownership to car ownership – and as such they know you don’t need to check your car oil and water every time you take it out.
This may be correct – however, there are some vital things to check on a boat EVERY TIME, before EVERY JOURNEY. For example – you do need to check your seawater filters are clear and free, because if they aren’t, then the vessel can overheat, and then you will have problems when you are out on the water – which makes getting back to land difficult.
The other thing to consider as being different from running a car, is that if your car breaks down, generally you can walk to your nearest bus stop or just call a cab. The situation is very different when you are out on the Bay or open water.
So, familiarization with all systems that pertain to safe operation is our first priority.
We go through and look at all the minimum checks that need to be done – which are the safety and mechanical pre-start checks – in order to get the boat ready to go.
The most obvious thing is the engine, battery and systems (GPS, Navigation & radio) checks. These are the most obvious.
Then something less obvious is getting you to look around your boat to ensure there are no sticks, lines or debris around the boat; they may have been caught between the boat and the marina. Also having a look at all the lines currently on the boat – are they set up well? Do they need to be re-done?
The aim with the lines to ensure that they hold the boat securely in the pen, with enough room to move, but without the risk of hitting anything (including the dock) during high winds.
We then take the owners through vessel startup – showing them a specific series of steps to follow for start up, which will then become their start up procedure.
Local Area Knowledge
We will cover local area knowledge, which in the Boating Essentials Course is all about familiarity with the Marina you are in, Knowledge about where the fuel bowsers are, and where the pump out station is. Additionally, we will go over any areas directly around the marina that you need to be aware of so as not to run aground or get into trouble.
In this section of the course we will go through a full procedure for refueling. This is important as refueling a boat can go very wrong, and for the safety of you and your family and friends, it is important to understand best practice around refueling.
Handling and Maneuvering
And then the lion’s share of the day is spent handling and maneuvering the vessel. We are looking at getting you to a point where you can maneuver your boat confidently and calmly both outside of the marina and within the confines of the Marina (which is usually the most nerve racking part).
We also spend a good amount of time on Docking – and specifically docking from the boat without jumping off onto the marina.
Many of the boats are large and have a high freeboard (which means there is a lot of volume above the water), which makes jumping off them onto the Marina very dangerous. All too often I see people do this as a method of attaching the lines on the marina cleats, but this is not necessary. They will jump off and on the boat many times as they attach lines, and all that needs to happen is one slip, and they are in the water behind a boat with it’s propellers running!.
Our aim is to get you and your family (be that a husband and wife team and or kids) to work as a team and to practice coming into the marina pen and docking with as minimal fuss as possible. We will teach you to use lines and spring lines whilst standing on the boat.
Our docking method is all about docking calmly, at walking pace, without yelling or screaming or extra stress.
It provides you with calm confidence in your ability to get your boat in the pen and secure it so it is safe to disembark.
Docking can become an exciting challenge, providing as much joy as being out on the water. And the sooner you reach this level of Docking, the more time you will find to spend on your boat.
We have found that the fear of docking can really take the edge off the whole boating experience – and our job is to help you overcome that.
Additionally we will go over how to use the prevailing winds to assist your docking, and even how to hold a station outside of your pen, so that if you need to do this you can.
Once we have docked for the last time, and are safely snuggled back into the pen, then it is time to ask questions and pick our brains for any information that you need. These questions can be about any of the systems on your boat – from the toilets to the aircon units, as well as down in the bilge.
In this section we will also cover basic troubleshooting things you need to know.
We should emphasize here – that there is no such thing as a silly question. The question that you didn’t ask because you were too embarrassed, could be the thing that brings you unstruck at a critical time.