Vic and I have been thinking about renaming the
Basic Powerboating course at FloridaSailing
& Cruising School.
We’re considering something like Marriage Counseling
for Boaters 101 or maybe Couples Counseling Afloat.
We have come to this opinion over time as we have
noted that students in this popular course often
bring up the issue of poor communications between
the skipper and the crew.
The Basic Powerboating course – there’s one
scheduled almost every month – is a three-day course
here at our headquarters at Marinatown Marina in
North Ft. Myers. It combines classroom and on the
vessel instruction, including hands-on practice. The
instructors tell me some students seem to pay
especially close attention to the discussion about
knot and line-handling and they would not be
surprised if someone were to ask how to tie the
We do not teach the hangman’s knot. The cost of the
Basic Powerboating course is not enough to cover
extra legal fees to defend against a charge of
accessory to murder.
One student said that if that “…if that jerk at the
wheel didn’t lower his/her voice, he/she was going
to rope his/her neck, not the piling…” As you’ll
note, I’m not naming names, pointing fingers or even
suggesting whether the jerk is a man or a woman.
Feel free to draw your own mental pictures.
On the other end of the scale our instructors hear
comments like this one. “Boy, I can’t wait to tell
my Fred. He’s been doing it all wrong.”
Fortunately, most of the comments we hear more
closely echo Fred’s wife.
Skippers who shout abuse from on high are really few
and far between, in my experience. For those,
instead of a boating course, an anger management
course or three might be in order.
Nevertheless, all skippers should periodically ask
themselves how they would measure up against the
high standard of being a good skipper. According to
Charles F. Chapman in Piloting,
a good skipper knows his job so well he or she
doesn’t have to think about the details of doing
it. A good skipper thinks ahead, is vigilant and
knows the capabilities of the crew.
Skipper, if you measure up, good for you. But,
either way, in the interest of smoother
communications on the vessel, we invite you to join
your First Mate and other members of the crew and
attend our Basic Powerboating course. You’ll all
become better boaters and better on-board
It may turn out, however, that the proper diagnosis
for some situations may require stronger medicine.
Perhaps a little collaboration with Dr. Phil or
somebody like that would be the right prescription,
enabling us to tackle head-on this issue of marital
communications on the boat. Shucks that could even
be a new cable TV program.
Our working title for the new, advanced course is
Courteous Couples Cruising. The goal would be for
students to learn what is required of the Skipper
and First Mate to communicate courteously and
effectively with each other. Skippers and First
Mates need to communicate effectively for the sake
of safety. Skippers and First Mates need to
communicate courteously for the sake of having fun
together on the boat. That’s what it’s all about,
I’ll bet we could charge a lot for that course.