Originally Posted by psneeld
I'm curious to the amount of training many "Cruisers" seek beyond the first couple of hours offered when buying a boat and meeting state safety requirements.
In my opinion, boating, like everything else involving operating a machine, is 90% logic and common sense and 10% training. And I believe that most people, if they possess a fair degree of logic and common sense and have learned how to learn (the only real value in getting a college degree
), can dispense with formal training in the case of recreational boating.
There is a ton of good and accurate information on virtually every aspect of operating a boat. This is nothing new; there have been countless books and articles published for decades if not centuries.
This has been augmented by the internet where one can learn about everything from anchoring to zincs. The downside of the internet, of course, is that since it requires no effort to "be in print," it is far more difficult to separate the accurate from the inaccurate. The time, effort, cost, and multiple review process of getting a book published tends to weed out most of the inaccurate rubbish beforehand.
So a person who truly desires to become a knowledgeable, responsible, and safe recreational boater can get all the information they need to become one if they make the effort to search it out and read it (and watch how-to videos on YouTube
This is not to say I don't believe there is value in classroom and hands-on training from someone experienced in the subject, be it weather, navigation, maneuvering, etc.
We took the multi-session USCG Auxiliary boating course when we bought our 17' Arima in 1987. While we both already knew or had been exposed to most of what was being taught, it served as a great refresher and reminder, and we did learn new stuff, particularly about hypothermia and local weather (both classes taught be working experts in the fields).
Years later we chartered a GB36 when we decided to explore the notion of getting into this kind of boating, and we had about two hours of practice with the charter company's checkout skipper, mostly to do with docking and close-in maneuvering, as we had never run a boat of this type.
That has been the extent of our "formal" training. The rest of it has been 27 years of running our own boats in a variety of PNW and BC locations and conditions. That's not counting the years of sailing and fishing I did on friends' boats in Hawaii before moving here, the racing crew experience (sail) I had here in the early 80s, and my wife's years of boating with her dad.
Combine this with over three decades of float flying in Washington, BC, and SE Alaska, and the northwest coastal marine environment is something we are very familiar and comfortable with and in, even though we know we have only scratched the surface in terms of our boating knowledge, and that there are countless conditions and situations we have yet to experience.
When we are going to encounter something new, like the narrow passes up north with their tidal currents that can run 10 knots or more, we talk to experienced people we know and read about the best techniques of dealing with these passes, and then we follow the accepted practices.
Which brings me back to my opening statement. My wife and I have found that successful, safe and enjoyable boating is directly proportional to the degree of logic, common sense, and self-reliability one brings to the undertaking. These attributes can perhaps lead one to take classes, perhaps hire instructors, perhaps research, read, and learn about a particular aspect of boating on one's own. But I think the most important thing these attributes will do is motivate one to take it one step at a time, retain what is learned and experienced, and put it into practice.
All the while keeping in mind the words I heard so many times from Alan Mulally when I worked with him that they are burned into my brain, "Remember, this is supposed to be fun."