Cape Coral Living - - Contents - BY JOE YAPELLO

In South­west Florida, fam­ily boating is a pop­u­lar life­style. Learn how to stay safe while en­joy­ing the wa­ters that sur­round us.

One of the most en­joy­able ways of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing na­ture and mak­ing mem­o­ries that can last a life­time is when the en­tire fam­ily goes boating. The time spent ex­plor­ing the beauty of South­west Florida water­ways helps fam­i­lies strengthen bonds and pro­motes a healthy re­spect for marine life and wildlife not seen or rarely seen on our fa­mil­iar terra firma. Be­fore con­sid­er­ing fam­ily boating, you must have a strong com­mit­ment to the un­der­stand­ing and ed­u­ca­tion of boating safety—es­pe­cially when it comes to keep­ing young chil­dren safe in and around the water. Jill Berger, ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer for the Cape Coral Sail and Power Squadron, knows just how im­por­tant ed­u­ca­tion can be when travers­ing the com­pli­cated water­ways of our re­gion.

“When my hus­band, Kenny, and I moved to Cape Coral in 2016, we knew the water­ways here were much dif­fer­ent than the lakes back in our home state of Ken­tucky,” Berger ex­plains. “Here, it is im­per­a­tive to know and un­der­stand the chan­nel mark­ers and other aids to nav­i­ga­tion to help pre­vent run­ning aground. “Wind and tides can dras­ti­cally change the water lev­els and con­di­tions. So it is cru­cial to fol­low the nau­ti­cal rules of the road to pre­vent a col­li­sion,” she adds. A recre­ational power boater since 1978, Berger grew up in Louisville and cher­ishes mem­o­ries of fam­ily out­ings on the Ohio River ev­ery sum­mer week­end. Her fa­ther, a Navy vet­eran, would let her take the helm of their cabin cruiser on oc­ca­sion—all with the pur­pose of teach­ing her proper safety mea­sures, how to be a good mate and to in­still a life­long love of boating. Those are the traits and ex­pe­ri­ences she brings to her po­si­tion with the lo­cal squadron. “Our fam­ily has owned and op­er­ated run­abouts, ski boats, fish­ing boats and pon­toons for many years,” Berger says. “In the early ’80s, we took the safe boating course of­fered by the Louisville Power Squadron. “Although we had been boating for a few years, we learned a great deal of very use­ful in­for­ma­tion that has served us well through the years we spent boating on Ken­tucky’s beau­ti­ful lakes. We raised two chil­dren on the water and taught them to be smart, safe and com­pe­tent boaters.” The Berg­ers im­me­di­ately signed up for safe boating cour­ses again when they moved to Cape Coral. They fol­lowed that up with sea­man­ship cour­ses and con­tinue to­day as proud mem­bers and am­bas­sadors for the squadron. Steve Par­ris, an ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at the squadron, knows first­hand that its safety cour­ses help to pro­tect each mem­ber when on board. “We of­fer classes in ba­sic boating knowl­edge through ce­les­tial nav­i­ga­tion,” he notes. “These cour­ses in­clude equip­ment re­quired by reg­u­la­tion, nav­i­ga­tion rules, the right of way and how to op­er­ate in the vicin­ity of other ves­sels. The cap­tain of a boat is re­spon­si­ble for the safety of his ves­sel and to op­er­ate safely around other ves­sels. These cour­ses will pro­vide an in­di­vid­ual with the knowl­edge needed in keep­ing their fam­i­lies safe while boating.” Char­tered in 1964, the Cape Coral Sail and Power Squadron, or CCSAPS, is a unit of the United States Power Squadron that was founded in 1914. The club’s pri­mary lo­cal ob­jec­tive is the pro­mo­tion of boating safety through ed­u­ca­tion. It pro­vides free ves­sel safety checks for the public, loans life jack­ets to adults and chil­dren, and holds many recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties

and events for mem­bers—on land and on the water. Berger of­fers the fol­low­ing safety tips re­gard­ing cap­tain du­ties and re­lated points to con­sider for all who board a ves­sel. The info is given to new grad­u­ates of the Amer­ica’s Boating Course avail­able at CCSAPS:

• Be sure your boat has all nec­es­sary safety equip­ment and all sys­tems (en­gine, lights, nav­i­ga­tion, ra­dio) are op­er­at­ing prop­erly. CCSAPS of­fers free ves­sel safety checks to as­sist boaters in meet­ing these re­quire­ments. En­sure you have the ap­pro­pri­ate types of an­chors and lines for your ex­pected trip.

• Safety equip­ment in­cludes ap­pro­pri­ately sized life jack­ets that are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble for all on board. Chil­dren un­der 13 years of age are re­quired to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-ap­proved life jacket un­less below deck or in an en­closed cabin. CCSAPS and mari­nas of­fer loaner life jack­ets.

• Check lo­cal weather con­di­tions be­fore leav­ing home and again at the dock. Weather can change quickly. Web­sites such as and, and smart­phone apps such as Windfinder and NOAA Marine Weather Fore­cast are help­ful tools. Keep a watch­ful eye on the sky while out on the water.

• Know your boat’s fuel ca­pac­ity and fuel level. Plan to use no more than a third of your fuel ca­pac­ity get­ting to your des­ti­na­tion and a third get­ting home, leav­ing a third for un­ex­pected sit­u­a­tions. Note that fu­el­ing a boat is po­ten­tially haz­ardous. Be sure not to con­fuse the fuel, water and hold­ing tanks when pre­par­ing to add fuel. Pay close at­ten­tion to avoid spilling fuel on the boat or in the water. Turn off any­thing elec­tri­cal and do not al­low smok­ing within 50 feet of the fuel point. It’s rec­om­mended that pas­sen­gers get off the boat while re­fu­el­ing. Al­ways run blow­ers and smell the en­gine com­part­ment for gaso­line fumes be­fore start­ing the en­gine.

• Plan your trip and fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with the route and nav­i­ga­tion mark­ers be­fore leav­ing the dock. Nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems, charts and GPS are use­ful tools. File a float plan with some­one ashore, and in­clude your in­tended des­ti­na­tion and how long you ex­pect to be out on the water. • Con­duct a safety brief­ing be­fore leav­ing port. In­struct pas­sen­gers on the lo­ca­tion of life jack­ets, throw­able floata­tion de­vices, fire ex­tin­guish­ers and other safety equip­ment, as well as emer­gency pro­ce­dures. Give di­rec­tion on where to stow per­sonal items, safe move­ment while the boat is un­der way, and proper dis­posal of waste. Make sure some­one other than the cap­tain knows how to use the ra­dio, nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and emer­gency equip­ment.

• Mind the rules when on the water. Learn which boat has the right of way. If some­one falls over­board while the boat is mov­ing, have a re­spon­si­ble per­son keep that per­son in sight at all times while the cap­tain turns the boat around.

CCSAPS spokesman Ted Blomquist en­cour­ages all in­ter­ested boaters to take the Amer­ica’s Boating Course, which teaches ba­sic boating skills. The course is rec­og­nized by the U.S. Coast Guard and grad­u­ates re­ceive a Florida State Boating Safety Ed­u­ca­tion ID. “Our in­struc­tors strive to ed­u­cate new and ex­pe­ri­enced boaters about the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of boating on the Caloosa­hatchee River, the Gulf of Mex­ico, Pine Is­land Sound and the many bays and in­let water­ways in South­west Florida,” he ex­plains. But even the best of cap­tains can some­times run into trou­ble. Blomquist says that run­ning aground is very com­mon in our area’s shal­low wa­ters. When it hap­pens, he recommends turn­ing off the en­gine im­me­di­ately. Most of the time boaters can push the ves­sel off the sand­bar. In worst-case sce­nar­ios boaters may have to wait un­til the tide comes back in—or call Sea Tow or BoatUS for as­sis­tance. “As the cap­tain of a boat, you are re­spon­si­ble,” Blomquist em­pha­sizes. “You and you alone are re­spon­si­ble for your pas­sen­gers and boat. That is why we strive with our cour­ses to give you all the skills and tools nec­es­sary for a safe and en­joy­able boating ex­pe­ri­ence for the en­tire fam­ily.” To learn more about how to keep your fam­ily safe on the water, and the cour­ses of­fered at Cape Coral Sail and Power Squadron, visit

The Amer­ica's Boating Course is rec­og­nized by the U.S. Coast Guard and grad­u­ates re­ceive a Florida State Boating Safety Ed­u­ca­tion ID.

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