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Safe at Sea: Boating in local waters not like boating 'up North'
April 11, 2018

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The other week we were visiting with neighbors. They had recently joined our Sanibel-Captiva chapter of the America's Boating Club at our Causeway Island potluck gathering. They told us of a few of their boating experiences in Minnesota, reminding us that Minnesota is the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. It was an interesting conversation as they spoke of their efforts to overcome the lack of knowledge in boating the large saltwater body of the Gulf of Mexico.

While having boated on some of the large lakes up north, they never felt so far from their dock that getting back to shore in case of darkness or weather would be a problem. Buoys are not generally used, or at least not paid much attention to, in the lakes of Minnesota. They might point out a submerged rock pile or a swimming beach boundary, but as a travel route? Not there!

Better know the buoy system here, or you may find yourself stuck in the shallows or violating the strict closed throttle areas of our manatee zones. And if you choose to travel to some specific place down here, it is likely to be beyond the horizon! In Minnesota, we could always see the lunch spot at the other end of the lake. Down here, referring to the navigation chart we learned to use, we found the entry channel to Fort Myers Beach is a 90 degree heading taken from the Sanibel Lighthouse, and there is some shallow water to avoid along the way! They reported finding three nice lunch spots over there at "the beach."

This couple remarked that even as "experienced boaters," they were glad they enrolled in the chapter's America's Boating Course, taught by trained competent instructors using course material promulgated by the national United States Power Squadron - America's Boating Club. The course has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and is also used for the required certification of boaters who were born after Jan. 1, 1988.

Our new members and friends went on to add they look forward to their next learning opportunity when they enroll in our chapter's Seamanship Course, a somewhat more advanced course covering boat handling, courtesy and rules of the road. It will be offered in the fall. Look for the schedule of next season's courses in September.

For more information or to become a member of the America's Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva, contact 239-985-9472 or Commander@SanibelCaptivaSPS.org.

Bob Eidsvold is a member of the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of America's Boating Club.

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