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‘Partner In Command’ debuts today

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A new chapter in boater education is set to come online today as the United States Power Squadrons and BoatUS unveil “Partner In Command,” the first in a series of online seminars designed to provide boaters with a convenient way to improve boating knowledge and skills.

Partner In Command” is designed to acquaint the first mate with basics so that he or she could take command if a situation called for it. But, after previewing the seminar, I find it could also serve as a good introduction to a variety of subjects for a new boater and the crew (kids).

The seminar provides a wealth of basic information, using videos accompanied by well-designed illustrations. The IT team at BoatUS has partnered with the Power Squadrons and done a good job of bringing it online. The information is broken down into short lessons on subjects like: starting the engine; basic controls and steering; using the marine radio; proper use of life jackets; how to anchor; and much more.

Each lesson varies in length and most wrap up with a couple of helpful review questions. If one were to do the entire seminar in one sitting it would take about two hours. There is no passing or failing. It’s meant only to inform.

The seminar doesn’t go into any state-specific requirements, nor does taking it qualify anyone for any state boating certificate, etc. A free course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is offered for that through the BoatUS Foundation Online Learning Center. Sadly, a few states don’t recognize the BoatUS course. But most states do and some states could charge a fee for their officially recognized boating cards.

“Partner In Command” is the first of what will eventually be up to 15 seminars available online in the next two to three years, ranging in subject from “Onboard Weather Forecasting” to “Advanced Anchoring Techniques.” Next up, however, will be seminars on “Using VHF/DSC Radios” and “Boating on Rivers, Locks and Lakes,” due out late this year.

If there is any drawback, it might only be the price. Initially, at least, “Partner In Command” will be priced at $70. A 21 percent discount (net $55.30) is offered to members of the Power Squadrons, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Great Lakes Cruising Club. Still, the seminar imparts solid basic knowledge. Remember its objective is to improve the ability of someone to take command if a situation called for it. That’s important and this seminar does it well.

From a dealer’s perspective, making it known to customers that “Partner In Command” is now available online is just another good way to advance overall boating education. It’s very much an easy-to-understand, how-to on boat operation. Accordingly, it’s got a lot of value as an introduction for a new boater, too.

Kudos to both the Power Squadrons and BoatUS for breaking new ground. Through its basic and many advanced courses, the Power Squadrons has already taught more than four million boaters and the organization will mark its 100th year of providing boater education in 2014.

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