Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 21, 2013

Courses a boon for boaters

By GRETCHEN MURRAY Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The boating season may be coming to a close, but some mariners are using the early offseason to hit the books and hone their navigational skills.

The Traverse City Coast Guard Auxiliary recently offered a three-hour class on navigational charting to participants who wanted to finish out the season by learning more about boating principles necessary to safely travel waters in and around the Grand Traverse Bay area.

The auxiliary also offers a course on Global Positioning Systems that will be held Oct. 24 from 6 to 9 p.m.

The navigational class, led by Doug Scott, a marine navigation instructor with the Grand Traverse Bay Sail and Power Squadron, covered topics that included beacons and other navigational aids, course plotting, distance measuring and chart details.

“Our goal is to keep people safe on the water,” said Dianne Walker, a pilot and spotter with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, as well as an educational programmer. “There’s a lot of big water out here, and our weather can be very changeable.”

Walker recommends all boaters take a minimum a basic boater safety course offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Joe Cruzen, of Traverse City, is from the area and was raised on boats, but said the course was one of the more advanced navigation classes he’s attended. He looks forward to putting new skills to use next season and anticipates a special trip north on his 24-foot Bayliner Classic hardtop.

“In June I made a trip from Traverse City to Drummond Island with my grandson, and we plan to take the same trip next summer, plus head over to Mackinac Island,” Cruzen said. “I have all the equipment on the boat. I’m learning how to use it the right way.”

Other participants aren’t ready to see the season end.

“When it snows, I’m going to get one of these (charts) out and look at it,” said Dale Belanger, who has a 24-foot Rinker. “I grew up in Lake Leelanau and took a boater safety course when I was in the sixth grade.”

Belanger said he took the navigational course for a second time, and found it to be a valuable refresher.

Walker said the Coast Guard Auxiliary offering public boating courses for over 30 years. The Power Squadron’s comprehensive courses on engine maintenance, cruise commanding, weather, instrumentation and navigation, also are open to the public.

Participants at the auxiliary’s GPS class should verify the location for the class when enrolling. Topics will include navigation for mariners, chart plotting, and using a GPS to navigate. Students are encouraged to read their GPS owners manual before class.

The auxiliary has a number of GPS units for classroom practice. Cost is $10 to cover cost of textbook and certificate. Register by calling Walker at 231-941-8076 by Oct. 23.