<em>A member of the Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron demonstrates inflating a life jacket.</em>
                                Rick Hurst / Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron

A member of the Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron demonstrates inflating a life jacket. Rick Hurst / Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron

Sail and Power Squadron teaches boater safety

BREMERTON — Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron is the local chapter of an international organization aimed at education, socialization and civic service when it comes to boating.

Founded in 1914, the United States Power Squadron formed as a way for the Boston Yacht Club members to “learn how to handle the newly emerging gas powered boats,” said BSPS education officer Rush LaSelle. Then the group branched out, and now there about 25,000 members in the U.S. and more than 400 squadrons throughout the U.S. and Canada.

And one of their main goals, LaSelle said, is safety.

“While boating fatalities and accidents are declining according to the U.S. Coast Guard, accidents and serious injury and death among paddleboarders and kayakers are increasing,” LaSelle said. “Kayakers and paddleboarders are also boaters, and they need to be aware of the rules of the road … The Coast Guard feeling is if paddleboarders and kayakers are aware of these rules … hopefully we can stop the collisions between the two.”

Which is why BSPS is holding a free seminar to teach that very thing 10:30 a.m. May 19 at the Sylvan Way Kitsap Regional Library in Bremerton.

This will be the third in a series of free seminars that give people “a chance to sit down and hear from people who are experts in the field,” LaSelle said.

Lori Almacen, admin officer with the BSPS, said, “People just don’t realize that there are rules to being out there on the water, and if they follow the rules, it makes everybody that much more safe.”

Another way the BSPS works toward safe boating is by offering to teach the ABCs. Specifically, the American Boating Course, which ends with the participants getting their boater education card, required for all boaters 12 years and older in Washington. Unlike online course options, however, the BSPS version gives participants the opportunity to get any questions answered by a teacher in the moment — and on-the-water training.

“It’s that time of year when everybody’s thinking about buying a new boat, or getting their boats ready to get out on the water,” Almacen said. “It’s a good time for us to reach out to people and let them know we have these courses and the information available for them … We want to reach out to as many people as we can to let them know, there’s dos and don’ts out there on the water. We want to make sure everybody can have fun out there and be safe.”

The classes cost $45 per person; if a family is taking the class, it’s $45 for the first person, and $5 for each additional member of the family.

“We teach docking, anchoring, trailering,” Almacen said. “We teach how to launch your boat, how to get your boat out of the water at the end of the day, how to maneuver in tight situations. There’s lots of training that they get with us that they wouldn’t get if they took that course online.

“We teach how to tie knots, how to tie your lines up, how to throw lines properly … there’s a lot of little things you just don’t realize. It makes it so much easier and a lot less stressful when you’re out there if you know some of the basics.”

BSPS also offers advances courses in seamanship, LaSelle said, “stressing the safety and techniques of everything from first aid to handling emergencies on board, monitoring weather on board and how to use navigation equipment.”

“The courses are taught not only in the classroom, but quite a few have on-water components,” LaSelle said. “(Students can) go out and practice some of he stuff.”

BSPS also offers boat safety inspections at the request of boat owners, to ensure that the boat meets Coast Guard safety requirements.

For more information and to find a class schedule, visit www.bremertonsailandpowersquadron.com or www.facebook.com/BremertonSailPowerSquadron.

— Michelle Beahm is the online editor for the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at mbeahm@soudnpublishing.com.

A student practices navigation while underway during practical hours of a Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron class.
                                Rick Hurst / Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron

A student practices navigation while underway during practical hours of a Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron class. Rick Hurst / Bremerton Sail and Power Squadron

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