Splinters in the Dock, My Boating Instruction Experiences

A few months ago while visiting my friend Coconut Pete in Cape Coral, Florida, I decided that I wanted to learn how to operate a motor boat. I also decided that I would tackle this bucket list item on the Florida coast rather than a mountain lake near my apartment in Asheville, North Carolina.

My friend Pete owns a boat. This story is about my adventure learning to captain his twin engine Hurricane.

I researched steps to acquire authorization to operate a boat in Florida. The first step was to take the online Florida Boating Safety Course. Rather than take the course in one block of approximately seven hours, I completed the course materials over several days. I passed the final test with flying colors and after discussing options for the next step (practical experience), I decided to accept Pete’s offer to instruct me.

I knew my boating instruction was going to be full of practical experiences like safety, using markers and tying knots. But several experiences also caused some exciting and unexpected situations!

As we all know, there is very much more one learns from practice. And for those knowing Pete and myself, there isn’t a tremendous amount of patience in either of us. But under Pete’s watchful eyes, I began learning practical boating skills which only come from being behind the wheel.

Keeping an Eye on Markers

Of course experience with buoys and markers is essential to keep you, your boat and others around you safe. A few times I messed up but generally kept “red, right, return” in mind… mostly.

Keeping an eye on markers and depth gauges are important. Once Pete had me stop the boat and look down on the starboard side so I learned to pay more attention to water depth as the boat was in just 3 feet of water with the tide in! Yikes! The boat needed 2.5 feet and I could have easily grounded it!

I also got to practice a “man overboard” maneuver to retrieve my hat that blew off!

But real excitement came one day at Pete’s covered dock. As I was easing away from it, I threw the engines into forward when I should have been in reverse! Fortunately, the boat sustained no damage but the splintered edge of the dock is a reminder of the need to be more careful.

Splinters on the Dock

At the end of the instruction sessions this week I am increasingly confident in my abilities to captain a motor boat. A few more sessions with Coconut Pete and I will be ready to go on my own in the waters on the Southwest Florida coast (in case other boaters reading this want to stay away!)

 

10 thoughts on “Splinters in the Dock, My Boating Instruction Experiences”

  1. You are one of the quickest learners I know. A fun and exciting experience and as a friend of mine use to say “we can still use the boat again the same day we went out.” I look forward to more tours when we get together again in Cape Coral.

    Live Well –

    Coconut Pete

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  2. Hi Barry, I have a house only about 1 mile from Coconut Pete’s. Next time you are in the area, let me know. All the best, Craig

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  3. Barry I can see you navigating a big beautiful yacht that you will invite us all to join you on a trip to a beautiful island.
    Enjoy
    Anna

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  4. Thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I think you’re a quicker learner than I was. To keep the waters safe—I probably should stay a ‘lay in the sun’ & ‘enjoy the ride’ kind of girl & leave the ‘boat driving’ to others.
    You were wise to take an online boating course & have an experienced boater like Coconut Pete teaching you. As you said, boating is a lot more complicated than it seems —who knew?? Watching your course on the GPS screen, watching your channel markers (knowing if you need to pass them on the right or left), watching the water depth, watching the other boaters, & usually doing all this while being blinded by the sun!! (As for night time boating? I say there should be ‘street’ lights—on channel markers & canals and bright LED headlights on all boats! LOL) Practice makes perfect; you’ll be sailing the seven seas in no time! ⚓️🛳

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  5. As always, I loved your blog. Your description of learning to operate a motor boat, the lessons, experiences, photos and humor mixed to make it so entertaining. Hopefully Pete got those splinters repaired and your boating experiences are just beginning. Enjoy the waters ahead!

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