Boating instruction revs up before the thaw

Whether new to boating, or a veteran of many seasons on the water, education is always part of the float plan


The promise of spring is out there, somewhere, and for the many boat owners in the region, before the cover comes off and the fuel tank is filled, there is homework to complete. Whether new to boating, or a veteran of many seasons on the water, education is always part of the float plan.

Most of the classes, courses, seminars, and workshops on boating take place in the winter window that opens after the holidays and closes when the weather warms enough for boaters to test the water. There is a significant lineup of these instructional sessions over the next month.

“It is essential to get the education in now, because you know spring is coming, and once the warm weather gets here, boaters won’t want to be inside,” said Chris Hoover, an instructor locally with the Toledo Sail & Power Squadron.

The courses focus on the essentials — safety, equipment, operation and navigation, boating laws, and transporting your boat to and from the water. A basic boating course is required in many jurisdictions and incentivized by most insurance companies.

“We want people to come into these sessions excited, asking questions, and hungry for information,” said Hoover, who was honored last year by the United States Power Squadrons for excellence as a boating instructor after students cited his zest, enthusiasm, and creative teaching methods.

“I love boating, and I want people to love it as much as I do, and be safe at the same time. We can all enjoy it a lot more when we know the rules and follow the rules.”

Hoover, a graduate of Lake High School, Owens, and UT, teaches junior high students in the Washington Local system. The same force that initially pulled him into the classroom is still tugging at him on those evenings and weekends when the boating education sessions take place. He has been teaching the safe boating courses since 2008 and helped out with the instruction before that.

“It’s exciting to know you can make a difference,” Hoover said. “There are so many people involved in these programs, and they all share a love of boating.”

The United States Power Squadrons, which is celebrating its 100th year in 2014, is the largest nonprofit boating organization in the country, and it offers online and classroom instruction, while also providing courtesy safety inspections.

Boating courses

■ Cold Water Seminar: The Toledo Sail and Power Squadron will hold a seminar on safety in cold water conditions on Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Building at One Maritime Plaza. The seminar will cover the safety measures and precautions appropriate in cold water, a life jacket drill and more. For information, contact Chris Hoover at 419-343-0251 or at cshoover@yahoo.com.

■ Boating Instruction: The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Building at One Maritime Plaza will be the site of a boating course offered on consecutive Wednesdays and Thursdays this month. The course meets in conference rooms A&B on the second floor from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. on March 12, 13, 19, 20. The $40 fee includes the text book, with a $20 fee for a family member sharing the book. The course covers required safety equipment, passing, crossing, navigation rules, aids to navigation, anchoring, water sport safety, knots and lines, and trailering. The course meets all Ohio & Michigan boating law requirements. Contact Chris Hoover for more information at 419-343-0251 or at cshoover@yahoo.com.

■ Boating Safety: The American Legion Post on Illinois Avenue in Maumee will be the site for an “About Boating Safety” class on March 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This introductory class covers the basics in navigation, safety equipment, boating laws, trailering, and other key areas. The class is intended to provide the knowledge needed to obtain a boat license or safety certification in many states. The course costs $35, or $45 for two students sharing a book. Lunch will be provided. For information or registration contact Dale Steinfurth at 419-464-1719 or Terry Cleary at 419-367-0222 or at terrytcleary@aol.com.

■ Boating Instruction: An Ohio Boating Education Course will be offered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 22 at the Nature Center at Maumee Bay State Park. The course covers navigation rules, safety equipment, Ohio boating laws, etc. There is a $5 fee for materials, and preregistration is required and available at 419-836-6003 or at watercraft.ohiodnr.gov.

VFW GAME MEAL: The Port Clinton VFW is holding a wild game meal and Monte Carlo night on March 15, with the doors opening at 5 p.m. The VFW is located at 214 Madison St. Tickets are $10 and are available at the VFW canteen. There will be wild game, plus other nongame options, including walleye. For information, contact the VFW post at 419-734-9981.

LAKE ERIE CONFERENCE: The Franciscan Center at Lourdes University in Sylvania will host a conference on March 20 to address the most pressing issues with the lake, including nutrients, dredging, sediment, invasive species, climate change, agriculture and algae. Lake Erie provides the drinking water for millions, and accounts for more than 100,000 jobs and $1 billion in economic activity. It also produces more fish than the rest of the Great Lakes combined. The conference is sponsored by Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Lourdes University, BP Husky, and SAVE. The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and featured among the dozen speakers is Pat Nicholson, the former president of the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority. For more information or to register, visit zvents.com/​sylvania_oh/​events/​show/​369520819-9th-annual-lake-erie-conference.

DECOY SHOW: The Great Lakes Decoy Association is holding a collectors event from March 13-15 at the Holiday Inn in Westlake, a suburb west of Cleveland. Show hours are from 3 to 10 p.m. on the 13th, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the 14th, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. There will be displays, auctions, and swaps of decoys, plus an accompanying display and sale of sporting art, fine antiques, furniture, and primitives. Admission is free for the show.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.