Staying safe in your boat

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Mon., Mar. 21, 2011
(l to r) Keith Whipple and Ken Parron listen to Deb Miller-Stein at the Safe Boating Class. Photos by Denise Coffey.
(l to r) Keith Whipple and Ken Parron listen to Deb Miller-Stein at the Safe Boating Class. Photos by Denise Coffey.

Deb Miller-Stein spoke to a class at Putnam’s Murphy Park Facility building on March 20. They had all signed up for the Connecticut Safe Boating class. To legally operate any motorized boat, all Connecticut residents, property owners and anyone using Connecticut waters for more than 60 days in one year must obtain a safe boating certificate or a certificate of personal watercraft operation. The course covered safety equipment, boating awareness and regulations, boat launch information, rules of the road and navigation.

I throw in a lot of information,” Miller-Stein said. “Mine is one of a few courses where I demonstrate how to tell if an infant life preserver is in good and serviceable condition. She’s been in the Coast Guard Auxiliary for 24 years and has taught Coast Guard courses for them. She has seen an increase in what she calls second generation boaters. “I’m seeing a larger number of students in my classes whose parents were boat owners and now their kids are coming of age.”

In Connecticut, anyone with a certificate can operate a boat, but there are certain restrictions in place. A child under 12 years of age may only operate alone with a boat having an engine of 10-horsepower or less. A 12-year-old can take out any vessel up to 65 feet in length, as long as he or she is certified.

Miller-Stein said she thinks a parent would be crazy to allow such things, however.

And she urges boaters not to boat alone. “The second person who can handle that boat is your life insurance,” she said. “It’s not just old people who wind up having health problems on water, or who fall overboard.”

Canoers and kayakers are not required to take a boat safety course, but Miller-Stein thinks it would serve them well. And she urges those who paddle to go with a second boater. “Of all the New England states, Connecticut has the largest number of paddling fatalities,” she said.

Last year, the state legislature gave the Department of Environmental Protection autonomy to change Connecticut boating statues to be in line with the federal statues. The DEP will release the publication of updated Connecticut Boater’s Guides at its annual meeting on March 23, according to Miller-Stein.

The day-long boat safety course cost $60. Application for a state certificate costs $50. Other classes will be held on April 10 and May 15. For more information call 860-729-8631.

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