Weather or not?

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Answering the growing calls for more boater education, the United States Power Squadrons and BoatUS Foundation Wednesday released their newest online educational offering called “Weather for Boaters.”

The new weather course is a superior guide to understanding winds and storms, barometer readings, interpreting cloud formations and air masses, fronts and thunderstorms, among many other considerations. It’s particularly notable that even boaters who generally check the NOAA marine weather broadcasts on a VHF radio can gain genuine expertise from taking “Weather for Boaters.”

Dave and Eileen Rickard, long-time United States Power Squadrons members serving as marketing consultant and education project manager, respectively, for the Power Squadsrons Education Department put it this way: “We certainly urge boaters to listen to NOAA weather, but a truly competent skipper should want his or her knowledge to be at the next level. And that’s being able to interpret the information, and observe and recognize the early signs of weather changes. This course will significantly increase every boater’s knowledge.”

Successful boat dealers recognize that the educational opportunities offered by groups like the United States Power Squadrons and BoatUS are important. For new boaters, for example, basic courses offered are invaluable in getting them started off right. While every dealer must make certain the customer understands the boat’s operation, no dealer has time to teach things such as basic rules of the road, navigational aids recognition, general safety practices and so on. It’s good, then, that dealers can point new boaters to the United States Power Squadrons or BoatUS basic courses available online that can also lead to boater certificates in states where required.

“Weather for Boaters” is the third new online course unveiled by United States Power Squadrons and BoatUS this year. The others are “Partner in Command” that teaches about handling emergencies and assisting in the safe operation of the vessel, and “Boating on Rivers, Locks and Lakes” that teaches boaters the skills of inland boating, from reading a river to navigating locks and boating near dams. Each of the courses takes 2-3 hours and can be taken all at once or leisurely over time.

Dealers recognize that educated boaters are more confident about their skills and, therefore, tend to use and enjoy their boats more. That leads to repeat customers, referrals and potentially more customers. Accordingly, every dealer should have an up-to-date list for their customers of any local boating classes as well as these easy-to-access online boating courses. It’s just good business.

There is a fee for these online courses. As the opening promotion for “Weather for Boaters,” it will be available through Sept. 30 for just $29.95. Moreover, the other new online courses — “Partner in Command” and “Rivers, Locks and Lakes,” regularly $39.95 — are also being offered at the reduced price of $29.95 until Sept. 30. To receive this discounted price, enter the promotional code “weather” when signing up at usps.org/edonline.

There are more than 30,000 USPS members in local squadrons around the nation. To find out if there is a squadron near you, go to: www.usps.org and look under “locate things.”

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