Driving a boat is not like driving a car – Quad

I do not know what made me think of it, but it happened years and years ago – maybe it was our upcoming session of Boating Skills Seamanship.

We were at the Chicago Boat Show at McCormick Place. I had a question about our current boat and was waiting for a salesman to get free. We were standing next to a large boat with a fly bridge, way over our heads. However, they were not so far above us that the salesman’s voice to a potential customer was not clearly understandable.

Potential Customer obviously was a nonboater who wanted to get on the water, but was a little hesitant about his lack of skill. “It is just like driving a car,” he was told. “You do not need any special knowledge. Boat rules are just like car rules, in fact, boat rules are based on car rules.”

He was partially right. The rules are similar, but boat rules were first and driving rules are based on them.

I started paying attention to the sales pitch. The salesman was saying, “You do not need any special skills, it is just like driving your car. You turn the wheel and the car goes in that direction. Nothing special about it.”

I remember thinking that I knew a lot of the boat salesmen in town and none of them would try such a dangerous pitch as that. A couple of them even registered their customers for the next Boating Skills Seamanship course. I wished I could talk to Potential Customer without the salesman around. I stepped back a few feet so I could see up to their level and got a look at Potential Customer. He was wearing a nice sportcoat with a mock turtle neck under it.

However, my turn came up with a salesman on my level and I could ask a question and get it answered. About a half-hour later, my wife, Judy, and I saw Potential Customer again, and we went up and introduced ourselves. “From a couple of your questions I gathered that you were skeptical about some of the information the salesman was feeding you,” I said. He agreed and said that what he had asked was if there was any place he could learn about handling a boat.

I assured him there was and that the Coast Guard Auxiliary had a booth on the lower level. We went to the booth, and he found a class starting in a couple of weeks just a few blocks from his home.

However, Quad-Cities area boaters do not have to hunt for a course – just show up at 7 Thursday evening at the Coast Guard Auxiliary Station at Sunset Marina. The textbook, which you can share, is $30 and the course is free.

Trip update

Our “Loopers,” Greg and Doreen Younberg, have long since passed up the junction of the Tennessee River and the Tennessee-Tombigbee route to the Gulf and have continued up the Tennessee past Huntsville, Ala., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Knoxville, Tenn.

On the way, their son Noah passed on some great news: He had caught an 8-pound, 18-inch largemouth bass up here in the Midwest. On their way, they got introduced to a new barbecue sauce called Stick Fingers which they claim is close to heaven.

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