Women on the water: Are You Prepared?

Women on the water: Are You Prepared? Jul 28, 2013

Nine Things You Really Need To Know.

By Lori Mason

Hello, my name is Lori and I’m a boat-a-holic!

One of the things that I love about boating is that every time you go out it’s different. The weather, the scenery, the other boats, the boaters, it’s always a new experience and I enjoy that.

My parents met at a Yacht Club in the 50’s, so I have been boating since I was four and had a wonderful career in the marine industry for over 34 years. I started the WOW program (Women on the Water) in 2008 so that women could learn about boating from women, without being judged.

In this column I’m excited to connect with women who boat, but may not be boaters.  With women that are adventurous, but may not have learned the skills and yet want to learn more (not necessarily about the engine).  With those whose partner is a boater, and now they want to be one too. So if you fall into that type of scenario, hopefully these tidbits of information can help you become more comfortable on a boat, help you learn what to do and where to be, and help you to contribute to running the boat.

Let’s start with first things first.  Let’s talk about “8 things you need to know as a woman in an emergency!” This covers the “what if” scenario. What if your partner who normally runs the boat gets hurt, or worse, falls overboard (men fall overboard more often than women, hence the term “Man Overboard”) lol.

So as a crew member, you need to know the following:

  1. How to stop and start the engine.
  2. How to put the boat into gear (forward, neutral and reverse).
  3. How to drop an anchor “just in case” of engine problems close to shore.
  4. How to call for help on the VHF radio.
  5. How to read the chartplotter to get your position and know where the MOB button is for a man overboard emergency.
  6. How to get someone back on board.
  7. How to, and when to, shoot a flare. 
  8. How to find and use the various pieces of safety equipment: fire extinguishers, PFD’s, safety kits, abandon ship kits, etc.

This may all sound scary, but once you are capable of performing these tasks, your confidence rises and you will feel more comfortable out on your boat.

Now is a good time to learn some of these. For example, if you have never taken a boating course, this would be a good time to investigate what’s available and to sign up for the next course date available in your area. Across Canada, Canadian Power and Sailing Squadron (www.cps-ecp.ca ) offers boating courses covering a range of topics – from basic boating and navigation, to obtaining your VHF licence and advanced boating skills.

A PCOC card is now required to operate a boat, and you can obtain this through CPSS or at boat shows challenging the exam, or even online. Sail Canada (www.sailing.ca) not only supports our national sailing team but also offers boating courses for both power and sail. Other online options are “Boating with Dawson’s” or “Informed Boater”. The Dawson’s have online lessons for power boating and Informed Boater has great information on boat handling, docking and safety. Or you can Google “boating courses” and you’ll find a number of course providers in your area. I suggest, making it a girl’s night out by signing up with some friends.

For som of the 8 items, you will need to be on your own boat to learn. I often suggest that you don’t learn from your partner, because they can be less…how do I say it, well you wouldn’t learn to drive your car from them, so why the boat? Get a boating friend or boating instructor – many will teach you on your own boat. So check in your area to see who might be instructing.

Just like any sport, there is some initial learning required. So take the time and learn first, on boats there is always something new to learn anyway, so make it fun!  Some of my girlfriends don’t want to be pulling up sails and steering the boat, they really just want to relax, read a book, watch the scenery go by and that’s fine too. As long as they know the “9 things” above, so they can be helpful in case of an emergency. You can enjoy boating however you want, that’s the best part about it.

Most people go through their entire boating life without incident, but it just takes one time, and to know what to do in that situation, can be Life Saving!

Boating is a lifestyle that involves meeting new people, learning new things and discovering new places. Now how much fun is that?

ED Note: PowerBoating Canada is thrilled to welcome the former owner of The Store: Masons Chandlery, Lori Mason, to our editorial team.  Lori’s passion is boating, and especially helping women get into, and better enjoy, the boating lifestyle.  She’s a confirmed boat-a-holic, and in this and in many future columns, Lori will share her decades of experience combined with a unique women’s perspective with our readers.  Welcome aboard Lori!

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