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Back to school: Safe boating course tips from ‘a reluctant skipper’

by Tom Chillemi

Back to school. Three words that make my stomach tighten.

When Virginia started requiring a boat license, I thought it was a good idea. The state phased it in starting with the younger boaters—the ones who need to learn about boating, in my opinion.

The deadline for boaters over age 60 was so far in the future that it was easy to forget. But July 1, 2016 was looming, and there would be a test.

I was in denial. I wanted to believe the rumor that the course would not be required for “seasoned” captains.

That word “captain” sure denotes a lot—responsible, in charge, authority, commander—none of these titles do I wear when I’m at the helm of our 24-foot boat “Show’s Over.” However, I’m the one everyone looks to when there is a problem. According to the boating test, the boat operator is responsible for the safety of guests.

Call me a reluctant skipper.

So, I heard about the BoatUS online boating course. It seemed better than sitting in a classroom for 8 hours. (My tummy hurts!)

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newsstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 09.06.2017

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