A Safe Boating Course will be presented at Middlesex Middle School Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. It will continue on consecutive Wednesday evenings for six classes, a review and an exam. The class will be presented by members of the Darien Sail & Power Squadron.

"The focus in this par of Long Island Sound is on basic coastal boating skills, significantly more than the minimum requirements set by the State in their one session classes. This is a `course' and not just a `class' on State regulations," Richard Woods, the course instructor, said. "It covers the state requirements for the certificate, and also covers "Radio, Ropes, and Charts." There are many major topics that can be covered when you have a course that meets over a period of weeks. We use "Radio, Ropes and Charts" to call attention to the fact that while these topics are not covered in the short state classes, the squadron believes they are vital to good seamanship in our area of Long Island Sound."

Woods explained the phrase "Radio Ropes and Charts" that is now used to describe the basic coastal boating course.

" `Radio' refers to the VHF Digital Selective Calling: the red button on the new sets will identify you and your location to the Coast Guard in event of an emergency. The DSC has other features that are especially useful as well. `Ropes' become `lines' on a boat and we cover the basic knots, cleats and line care that makes easy to get into and away from any dock, in any weather. `Charts' refers to both the chart plotter/GPS devices as well as the traditional paper charts -- once you learn one, you learn them all, and you are prepared to find your way to any port you choose. The Squadron Course covers all these features and more."

The course covers basic boat handling and seamanship, equipment and regulations, an introduction to charts and aids to navigation, basic piloting, and navigation rules. The course is directed at general, practical issues of interest to all boaters, and is not targeted to either power or sail. Graduates of the course are awarded a diploma that is recognized by the state in their award of the Safe Boating Certificate.

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This course also meets the requirements for the Coastal Boater Endorsement, recently introduced by the State's DEP Boating Division. This supplement to the Safe Boating Certificate recognizes students who complete courses that are more comprehensive than the minimum requirements.

The State's Safe Boating Certificate regulations apply to all operators of vessels registered in the state, regardless of age.

The cost of the class ($95), includes the text book, charts and plotting equipment. Although pre-registration is not necessary, class materials may be reserved by filling in the form at www.dsps.darien.org. Call 203-656-1129 for more information.

E-mail to dsps@optonline.net to receive a schedule of classes listing each day's topics.