Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Women's Boating, Part Deux

In July, I was lucky to attend an afternoon-long, Women on Water class hosted by MarineMax. Well, my good fortune has continued: last Monday I traveled to Sarasota, Florida to spend a week attending powerboat handling classes through SeaSense, the women's sailing and powerboating school.

Mine was a five day long beginner/intermediate powerboat handling course that was held on a 42-food Grand Banks called Paper Moon(see photo above). In addition to our fantastic instructor, Captain Patty, I had two other classmates. One was studying for her captain's license and the other was eagerly readying herself to spend several months cruising in the Bahamas with her fiance. The fact that we were a small group meant there was a significant amount of individualized attention, which was certainly a good thing: We were fed a lot of information in just a few short days.

Lessons covered everything from basic line handling to understanding tide charts. Captain Patty talked us through engine troubleshooting, led us through man overboard drills, taught us proper radio etiquette, and we practiced (and practiced) chart plotting. Of course we also dedicated much of our time to docking, both at fuel docks and backing into slips.

Though less-than-ideal conditions kept us off the water at times, we each got significant hands-on experience. What I found most surprising was that for someone with relatively little experience, I really wasn't nervous about the prospect of trying my hand at docking a 40-foot boat. It wasn't arrogance. It was a testament to the fact that my fellow SeaSensers, led by Captain Patty, were kind, enthusiastic, and above all, very supportive. I don't know if that's the nature of all boating classes or my course in particular. But I do know that the class left me feeling very fortunate indeed.

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