US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 95
Suddenly in Command — a scary thought. You are on the water. Your “captain” is incapacitated, and you are suddenly in command of the vessel. Do you know how to get the boat under control? Can you perform basic first aid and get the boat back to the dock? If you are not sure you could handle this situation and would like to gain confidence on the water, the “Suddenly in Command” course offered by the Marco Island Coast Guard Auxiliary is for you.
True story: A Miami woman was out on the water with her husband, never expecting to be at the helm that day. Her husband had a heart attack, so she tried calling for help on the radio. She kept shouting into the radio: “Help me, help me,” but never took her hand off the “mike button.” Since the Miami woman didn’t know how to properly use the radio, helpcame too late. Do you know what the “mike button” is and how it works? Could you use your radio to call for help in an instant?
This is just one of many stories of people becoming “suddenly in command” who don’t know how to handle the boat. What would you do if the captain fell overboard? Could you turn the boat around and safely pick him up? Do you know how to put the boat in neutral so the propeller stops turning? Can you call for help on the radio and get the boat back to a dock where an ambulance might be waiting?
Your local Coast Guard Auxiliary here on Marco Island offers a “Suddenly in Command” course that will teach you the basics of boat handling for on-the-water emergencies beginning in the classroom and then “hands-on” in a boat on the water. The course covers use of the VHF radio, gaining control of the boat and the basicsof first aid.
On-the-water is hands-on instruction. You will take the helm and gain control of the engine, pick up a “man overboard,” anchor and finally dock the boat. The classroom instruction and a session on the water combine to make a comprehensive course for you to gain confidence if you are “Suddenly in Command.”
Make sure every day on the water is as safe as possible by ensuring everyone on the boat understands boating basics. A pre-departure safety check with your passengers should include: where the life jackets are, where flares and first aid kit are stored, and how to use the radio. If something goes wrong while you are out, make sure you are prepared for the worst to achieve the best possible outcome.
The next “Suddenly in Command” course is scheduled for Dec. 4. To sign up for this class, please email Marian Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to Rose Marina for donating the boats for students to experience the “hands-on” boat handling.