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Refresh Your Boating Knowledge

Refresh Your Boating Knowledge

Currently, anyone who has completed a BoatSafe Course in Queensland, and finished the practical training and passed, is eligible for a recreational marine licence. In 1991, when I was exposed to marine safety training, I remember answering a few short multiple-choice questions, the boat being taken out and then returned to the shore, and a licence approval handed over by the assessor.

The complexity of boating technology and the increase in the number of people accessing recreational water vehicles mean that safety is becoming more imperative. Monitoring of people and their use of the waterways has also significantly increased. There is no question that with rising numbers of boat and waterways users come a growing need to ensure all users remain safe.

In 2010, the National Maritime Safety Committee released a boating usage study report, which indicated that one percent of boating trips resulted in an incident, and these occurred generally within the first two hours of boating. It was also reported that there was a gross under-reporting of boating incidents, suggesting that there is a higher number of accidents and mishaps on the water. These incidents generally resulted from poor preparation, and lack of attention and due diligence.

Although boating schools offer a wide range of courses for recreational or professional licences, refresher courses are not that popular. There are providers who report that they do have people contact them for these courses.

“We have several people a month come to us for refresher courses,” Mike from Licence to Boat, a marine licensing service provider, indicated. “People who haven’t been out on the water for quite a while come to us, and we put them through the standard course to give them a bit more confidence. They join in with all the other people who are starting for the first time, and we give them a practical element, and just make sure they feel happy and confident.”

 

Online Refresher

An online course has a large number of advantages. One that matters most to me is that it provides the option for people to complete their original licensing theory online (such as Boatsafe) prior to engaging in the practical aspects of their recreational boating licence.

Learning online is an exceptional way to privately engage with the course material, as nobody is overlooking your shoulder. If you get something wrong, you can simply repeat and go over the material again.

As a mother with several children, and having recently purchased a sailing yacht, I can take my time in learning and relearning safety principles through an online course. I am able to go through the course at my own pace, and just log onto it wherever I may be – at home or at a cafe. In this way, I am more focused on understanding the lessons, as there is less external pressure to perform well in a short period of time.

The Advanced Skipper, an online refresher course for marine licence holders, recently launched by the Boating Industry Association (BIA), is a welcome innovation for many boaters. The course is a convenient way to relearn what we may have forgotten and to reaffirm what we already know. So I enrolled in the Advanced Skipper course and completed it at the tip of my fingers – literally and figuratively!

 

Advanced Skipper: A Review

The course is generally straightforward. I really enjoy the way the course is presented. It is ideal for people, like myself, who perhaps do not want to go straight into the practical course until feeling absolutely ready. My time is at a premium, so being able to do this course from the comfort of my own home really is a bonus for me.

The course is estimated to only take an hour, but I took several sittings of the course to really get a grasp on the concepts. There is a lot of learning material and it deserves more than one sitting to truly understand the information. It is reassuring to know, however, that there is no deadline for completing the course. This is a good feature, because there is a lot of material covered!

I appreciate the simplicity of the presentation of the course. The course is structured by following different scenarios. These scenarios simulate “what if”-type situations that can be avoided by following more safety guidelines and having better preparation. It makes you really take notice of what can go wrong. And the best thing about it is you can make a mistake without placing yourself or anyone in danger!

The course covers a wide variety of scenarios including Sydney and Gold Coast waterways. The emphasis on safety, proper procedures, maintaining a vessel, and refresher skills are really of high quality. This is an extremely comprehensive course, suitable for all learning levels of people able to obtain a recreational marine licence.

The questions offer multiple-choice answers. I tripped up on some of them where you have to provide more than one answer. But it is all good, as you always have a chance to go back if you make these mistakes.

To complete the course, you have to obtain a 100% passing rate. It is wise to keep going back over the material until you get everything correct. You can also find out at each section if you answered correctly. The whole course allows for multiple retakes until you get 100%.

What I found very helpful for me are the pre-departure checks. It has been such a long time since I encountered these concepts – from way back as a teenager when my Dad would take my brother and I out in our small fishing boat! Now that I am getting back into boating – with a sailing vessel – I think that the pre-departure checks are really important, particularly the emphasis on safety equipment.

While the questions are generally straightforward, I did find some of the terminology – like converting between nautical miles and understanding speeds, wind speeds and remembering all of the boating jargon – really something to get my head wrapped around. Despite having a marine licence, I have not had any recent regular exposure to boating, and so many of these concepts have slipped my mind. It will be very helpful if there were readily accessible reference materials for the skipper to review before completing the course – either as links that take you to a recommended website or as downloadable materials that you can save in your personal files. Printable versions of pre-departure check templates will also benefit many people who are taking the refresher course.

There are a couple more issues that may need to be addressed. One is to cater for people who may not have access to fast internet connection. The other is for those with hearing impairment, where a text version or subtitled version of the text can be offered.

From an information technology point of view, the course is lightyears ahead of any other comparable offerings. The animations are snappy and engaging. I must say that the creators of this software have really done an impressive job in creating a high quality product.

The course is very affordable, and the return on investment is significant. Aside from the educational benefits of the course, the Advanced Skipper program includes proper certification for the participant, and provides a host of discounts offered by sponsoring companies.

Further, upon completion, the participant will be invited to be part of a forum on how to improve maritime safety. The participant can further provide feedback on how to further improve the course itself, and also other aspects of the marine industry overall.

The Advanced Skipper program is a significant course that helps remind us of basic boating concepts and safety measures, as well as enhances our problem-solving skills in specific scenarios.

In time, it should possibly be mandatory to participate in refresher courses – whether online or in a classroom setting – in order to enhance and promote safety on the water. Needless to say, safety is a paramount responsibility of the skipper, and anyone who is in charge of a vessel is responsible not only for ensuring the proper maintenance of the boat, but more importantly, the safety of the people onboard.

 

By Lori Woodward

 


Related Story

Advanced Skipper – Q&A with Howard Glenn

 

 

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