Boating Safety Course/Challenge Test

I've been ranting about this "thing" since its inception, which was whenever and who cares!  All that everyone has to know is that all of us  have to get "the course" by 2009 or we'll supposedly be charged and flogged publicly!  There have been alot of stupid laws imposed by our governments ie: Gun Registration , but, this one is one that hits closer to home than some and as human behavior goes, unless it affects us directly we tend to keep our mouths shut and slip away into the night.  While it may not change the fact that we will still need this course by '09 its still important for the public to let our politicans know that these type of things won't help, and they'd best look elsewhere for something that will work!

Now, me being one of those humans that can't shut up about anything, I feel it only fair to share my rant with the rest of the world, THE BOAT COURSE/CHALLENGE TEST SUCKS!!!  If I were to actually put in words what I really felt I would get a flood of ugly email telling me to clean up the potty mouth or, they'll not read my site anymore, whatever, I don't know who you are anyways!  I've been, and this is the old fart stuff coming out, handling, driving, overturning, fishing, skiing, tubing blah blah blah since I could first pull the cord on a 7.5 HP Triton air-cooled outboard, or was it a 9.9 Chrysler, whichever, been around boats a long time.  As well, in the RCMP, and especially on the Dive Team, practically lived on boats and operated all sizes and shapes of said vessels.  Now, I'm not quite so arrogant to say I know all and have done all, except to my closest buddies but, lets just say I've been there done that.  I am all in favor of a course that will in fact teach you something, you know the kind I mean, actually learn something useful that can be put into play once your out "testing" whatever it is that you had a yen to learn about.  Way back when, the Hunter Training Course I took as a kid was one of those courses that I just loved and actually came away with knowledge, which unfortunately due to older age have forgotten but, have replaced with new info that I may feel is more relevant to the situation.  I have no idea what I just said!

Anytime we go to school or other such learning  establishment or, a course, it is just for that, to learn.  I taught the snowmobile course and ATV course while in the RCMP and I would hope that those that were on it came away with some "stuff" that they didn't know about, and those on the course that figured they knew everything failed anyways!!  This new Boaters Safety Course does not even come close to a knowledge based course that one could come away with pertinent info.   Now, let me clarify a point before I go further and I have email coming in saying that they did in fact take something away with them from the course,  I did not take the actual course, I took the challenge test but, my brother in law and his son actually took the course.  They paid the $75.00 bucks (each) or whatever it was, sat through the session and wrote the test, and passed.  As a matter of fact, the entire class passed! Mind you, with the instructor going around and "giving" answers away its no wonder they passed!  The bottom line is this, my brother in law and son came away with absolutely no more knowledge about boating safety than they went in there with.  They said that most of the course dealt with stuff they would never use, and although much of it was common sense, did it make them a better boater or safer boater when it was all said and done??  No!  Boating safety is only relative to the person using the boat at the time, and there is no course that is going to make a boater a safer operator if that boater really doesn't give a crap about anything!  I realize the government has a daunting feat before them in trying to prevent injuries and deaths associated with boating, but this course would apparently not be the band aid solution they are hoping for!

My "contact" with the Course came in the form of the Challenge Test you can take, if you do not want the full blown course.  Now, this is really where the entire conception of Safe Boating falls flat on its face!  What a farce, to be able to take a test on something that is so important to the government that they will be charging people and taking them to court if they don't' have it, and all you have to do is guess your way through it and, if you don't pass you don't pay!!  That's a bit of incentive for those instructing it to make sure you pass, isn't it, same as on the full blown course!  The only reason I took it and probably the reason for many others was to get it out of the way, being honest citizens and all, and not wanting the hassle later on when it actually becomes law.  I have to admit that I perused the manual, a year ago, and found it quite, uneventful??  The wife and I were at a home show and figured we'd lay down our $45.00 each and give it a try, she's never even seen the manual!!  Readers Digest version, I had 4 wrong, and while I wanted to argue each of them, it would have been a waste of my time and the instructors.  I do wish to thank the instructor though for going over the corrected tests with others right where we were writing the test, so while we were all in earshot of him, could correct some of the ones we got wrong!!  One of my "wrong ones" sticks out though, here's how ambiguous some of the questions could be.  The question was, and this may not be exact but pretty close, what lights do you have to turn on at dusk on your boat?  The correct answer was "Bow, stern and mast lights".  The answer I put was "Bow and stern lights".  I got it wrong and questioned the instructor on it, telling him that I did not have a mast light, just the bow and stern lights.  He told me that the mast and stern lights were the same thing???????  What???  There were two other ones I got wrong that had the same multiple guess answers, one was right but one was righter, sounds like the RCMP promotion exams!!!!  Now here's the kicker, the wife also passed, and bless her soul for that, got 3 more wrong than I did, but is now a graduate for Safe Boating???  With all due respect to her, she can certainly drive the boat etc., but most definitely lacks the experience to quality her as a "safe boater"!!  There was a young fella, I'm guessing 14 or so, that took the test and passed, what experience has he had in boating, that would now qualify him as a safe boater.  Another question I have as a Houseboat Capital of Canada resident in Sicamous, what the hell are they gonna do with all the house boaters that come from all over the world to drive these monstrosities??  Crips, most of them couldn't drive a sharp stick in the ground or their finger up their nose, let alone maneuver a 75' boat that steers like a tractor trailer driving on ball bearings!!  Alot of these dufus's can't even make it out of the channel, let alone be safe out on the open water with hundreds of other vessels around them!  You gotta know there's gonna be some kind of exemption for them, where only one person on board needs the "course" which will be a challenge test they take right at the house boat place.  Hey, out of the 12 or so people on board, someone will pass it!

The boaters safety farce is not the answer, on hands testing is the answer and even that is not going to help educate those that don't want to be educated.  What's going to happen is your going to get the moose drips that are the arsholes of the lake writing the test and passing it, so what happened to the boat safety factor??  Similar to the gun registry fiasco, this too shall not be the solution to those morons out on the water. What we do need is quite simple, more enforcement and laws that actually have some teeth to deal with the idiots out there.  If the government really wants to make boating safer, start there, don't be targeting the honest folks again, whom you know will cough up the bucks for the course, and concentrate on the bad guys.  That also means that us honest guys have to get more involved as well, quit sticking your damned head in the sand when you see something and get on the phone and report it!  I know guys that are always squawking about poachers or some guy that they saw driving like a tick turd, well report it or quit whining about it!  Anyways, that's my rant on the Safe Boater stuff, not so much a cash grab as a band-aid solution for a government that is not willing to grab the bull by the horns and do something useful about a situation that will only get worse.  How about a course on backing up a trailer or proper etiquette at the launch, there's' a safety hazard right there!  That's my hook set on the subject!!