An informal survey conducted by the Darien Sail & Power Squadron revealed that 60 percent of local boaters do not go more than five to 10 miles from home -- and never stay away overnight.

Peter Kelly, in charge of education for the squadron, discussed this finding at a recent meeting. "We believe that people just do not think they know how to read a chart -- and lack the confidence to venture further than `line of sight' out of the harbor. They get bored with the boat after a couple of quick trips across the Sound, and perhaps to Port Jeff. Our squadron has developed a course to change that -- and get more people out on the Sound for more adventures and good times."

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, the squadron will begin a course in small boat piloting designed to address chart reading. The course will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Rowayton United Methodist Church, 5 Pennoyer St., Norwalk. The course will meet for 10 classes, during which paper charts, hand-held GPS receivers, tides, currents and common-sense piloting techniques will be presented with hands-on exercises.

"Yes, we are presenting a course, not a seminar. There will be ample time to review the tough spots, but also time to review the rewarding aspects of small-boat cruising," said Peter Adler, who will be presenting the course with Chris Winalski. "We'll go at a manageable pace and have hands-on and practical examples at every step. This course is all about building the students' confidence as they plan for their next adventure on the water. We believe that weekend boating should be a pleasant and rewarding boating experience. Good adventures -- and not `white-knuckle' adventures."

The cost is $175, which includes books, supplies and a one-year membership in the Darien Sail & Power Squadron. A discount will be offered to members. To register, email dspswebmaster@gmail.com.

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