Sunday, November 28, 2021

Suddenly In Command!

Photo by Laurie Harris

Photo by Laurie Harris

Suddenly in command – a scary thought. You are on the water and your captain is incapacitated and you are suddenly in command of the vessel. And you have no boating experience. How do you get the boat under control? Can you perform basic first aid and get the boat back to the dock? If you are not sure you could handle this situation and would like to gain confidence on the water, this class is for you.

True story — a Miami woman was out on the water with her husband, never expecting to be at the helm that day. Her husband had a heart attack, so she tried calling for help on the radio. She kept shouting into the radio – “Help me, help me,” but never took her hand off the “mike button.” Since the Miami woman didn’t know how to properly use the radio, help came too late. Do you know what the “mike button” is and how it works? Could you use your radio to call for help in an instant?

This is just one of many stories of where people become “Suddenly in Command” and don’t know how to handle the boat. What would you do if the captain fell overboard? Could you turn the boat around and safely pick him up? Do you know how to put the boat in neutral so the propeller stops turning? Can you call for help on the radio and get the boat back to a dock where an ambulance might be waiting?

Your local USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 95 on Marco Island offers a “Suddenly in Command” class that will teach you the basics of boat handling for on the water emergencies beginning in the classroom and then “Hands On” in a boat on the water. The two-component class includes a three-hour morning of classroom instruction, then an afternoon on the water training session. Each class has a maximum of number of students to ensure personal training, so register early.

The class covers use of the VHF radio, gaining control of the boat and the basics of first aid. On the water is hands-on instruction. You will take the helm and gain control of the engine, pick up a “man overboard,” anchor and finally dock the boat. The classroom instruction and a session on the water combine to make a comprehensive course for you to gain confidence if you are suddenly in command.

Make sure every day on the water is as safe as possible by ensuring everyone on the boat understands boating basics. This should include: where the life jackets, flares and first aid kit are stored and how to use the radio and be done before you leave the dock. If something goes wrong while you are out, make sure you are prepared for the worst to achieve the best possible outcome.

The boats we use are generously donated by Walker Marine from their Hideaway Marina on East Elkcam Circle.

The upcoming schedule for “Suddenly In Command” classes: Thursday, November 9, 2017 Thursday, February 22, 2018 Thursday, March 22, 2018

For more information about safe boating courses, contact Joe Riccio at 239- 384-7416 or email To schedule a free Vessel Safety Check contact John Moyer at 239-248- 7078 or or call the Coast Guard Auxiliary Station – Flotilla 95 at 239-394-5911. Interested in joining Flotilla 95, USCG Auxiliary? Call Bob Shmihluk at 215-694-3305.

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