Since many first-time boaters take to the water, education and etiquette are the keys to safety and fun for all.

Outdoor recreation has exploded over the past year. People from all walks of life have found new ways to have fun outdoors during the pandemic. Today, many of them extend to more categories of outdoor recreation. Boating is no exception. Since many first-time boaters take to the water, education and etiquette are the keys to safety and fun for all.

My cousin, Jamie, is a perfect example. He was never an outdoor enthusiast. In fact, he kindly gave me some family heirloom rifles, as admittedly he would never use them. But now he’s a boater. He and his wife, Jacquelyn, bought a yacht club in western Michigan. This timeshare-type operation gives them access to a small fleet of different boats in several ports. So now they spend their weekends on Lake Michigan which is a great water to learn.

I recently joined Jamie and Jacquelyn on a boat out of Holland, Michigan, and found them as I expected, including knowledgeable and safe. It was fun to listen to them explain their evolution as new boaters. At one point, Jamie said, “We know how to use the anchor now.” It sounds funny, but there is more to properly anchoring it than dropping it off the side of the boat. Through trial and error, they figured out how to properly anchor to the beach.

Experience is a great teacher, but it shouldn’t be the only source of knowledge. The Water Sports Foundation reports that 415,000 first-time boat buyers entered the market last year. These personal watercraft include new and used boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, paddleboards and more. Water Sports Foundation Executive Director Jim Emmons is quickly pushing boating education.

“As an industry we all love to see dozens of new boaters joining our ranks and we are thrilled with the diverse and younger audience that comes on board,” said Emmons. “However, we all want to make sure that these new boaters, and even the inactive boaters who have returned, are educated and well equipped to safely navigate the country’s waterways. There are a multitude of educational and boating safety opportunities available, including online and live courses; we encourage our boaters to invest time in training.

According to a press release from the Water Sports Foundation, NauticEd, one of the world’s leading providers of charter vacations and the first to meet US national standards in the sailing education segment, offers online and one-on-one courses. . Last year he reported a 30% increase in registrations for online courses and, since vaccines became available, noted a surge in requests for vacation yachts.

“As a travel and outdoor recreation business, sailing is on fire right now and interest and demand is the strongest we’ve seen in a decade,” said Grant Headifen, Founder of NauticEd and Global Director of Education. “The increase in online registrations tells us that there is a new wave of novice sailors pursuing the lifestyle, while the increase in vacation yacht requests indicates that sailing veterans are enthusiastically returning to the water. It’s exciting to see NauticEd’s comprehensive e-learning platform and on-the-water instruction help increase access and training for newcomers.

Boating is a great way to spend time outdoors. Whether you are paddling a kayak on your own or enjoying the pleasures of a pontoon boat, knowing what you are doing is key. The Water Sports Foundation researched and provided a sample of boating organizations providing information on boating access as well as live, virtual and hybrid boating safety education programs and providers. . You can find it on the Water Sports Foundation website

See you soon on the track …

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