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Old 26-04-2012, 13:05   #1
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Instructing a Total Newbie

A close friend purchased a brand new Regal 3060 and while he worked around boats in a yard in college, he had never driven anything larger than a runabout. I have taught many folks how to sail and drive boats but thought this time I would try a little different tack. He had taken a basic USCG Auxilary course to learn the rules of the road, etc.
After summerizing the engines after winter, twin volvo outdrives, we splashed her and I rigged the lines and fenders. I started up the engines after checking all the through hulls, engine exhaust, electrical and electronic systems which were new to me as well as the owner.
Then I slipped out of the Capt's chair and said, 'there you go, skipper... take her out, I'll handle the lines'.
A look close to terror crossed his face... he clearly expected me to drive her through the marina to her slip. I told him it was his boat, he was the skipper and I would be right beside him the whole way if he got into serious trouble.
I untied the boat, pushed us away from the dock and said, 'put her in gear, both engines idle speed and steer her like a car.
We did a few turns in the marina estuary, first using one engine then the other, same in reverse to give him a feel for how she performed then headed over to his new slip.
With few boats in the marina, I felt it a great time to practice docking astern. After an obligatory ding to the side of his new boat, he quickly got the hang of it. As I explained it was similar to hockey... practice going astern and if you can master that going forward is easy just like on hockey skates.
The next part of the lesson was to learn that wind was your friend... use it to help control your sideways motion in a non-displacement hull. Set up your landing and let the wind move you where you want to go. If it doesn't work, back off, regather your thoughts and try it again. Practice, practice, practice. Use the flags on other vessels to scope out the wind direction and velocity.
The next day, after he buffed out his little 'ding', we practiced some more.
I emphasized that he should never come in to the dock faster and harder than he wanted to hit it or another boat.
By the end of the second day his confidence level had risen significantly and he really felt he was getting the hang of driving his new boat. Over dinner that evening he asked me why I had never taked the wheel. I told him that if I started driving, he would expect me to jump in and grab the wheel whenever he got into a problem. With him at the helm, he had to figure out what to do knowing if something serious began to occur, I was there to bail him out.
I'm posting this thread to invite criticism, suggestions and provoke discussion concerning what is important to cover when teaching someone new to boating, the basics of boat handling to get them up to speed safely, quickly and confidently. Capt Phil
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Old 26-04-2012, 14:27   #2
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

A very good lesson.

I would have had him do all the checks.

I also like to do "high" speed figure 8's in forward and reverse to get a sense of the manoeuverability, turning radius, and pivot point. On a power boat low speeds turns would also be useful. Show how you can pivot the boat using just the engines.

I often will have folks pull along side a fender or MOB pole in the water. Do this is both forward and reverse. You could also do Anderson and Williamson turns.

After getting confident in know how a boat will handle, the docking is easier.
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Old 26-04-2012, 14:32   #3
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

Good lesson plan. I would also have handed him a checklist and told him to go through it.
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Old 26-04-2012, 14:51   #4
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

Both great points, jackdale and Me-and Bo... the lake was a little rough so we stayed inside in the marina estuary for his familiarization.
Written checklist is good advice, I'll prepare one for him so he can follow when he is aboard alone or with others unfamiliar with boating. As jackdale suggested I will have him do the checks next time out. Brings to mind a checklist for when he is on his own to cover with his guests such as PFD location and use, MOB procedure, head useage, trash management, etc.
Jackdale, we did practice turns with wheel amidships and just using the engines on the second day, also practiced 'walking' sideways with wheel swung and adjusting engine power/forward one, reverse other. We didn't cover the lower speed, higher speed turns because of the restricted area we were using in the marina but I'll put that on the list for tomorrow when we get out in to the lake.
The boat is brand new so will run the engines in a bit conforming with manufacturer's recommendation before hitting the red line. (have less than 10 hours on them)
Can't recall the term Anderson or Williamson turns... my memory isn't what it used to be but would appreciate an explaination.
Thanks again for both your comments and suggestions. Capt Phil
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Old 26-04-2012, 15:17   #5
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

Those are MOB's for power.

Recovering Someone Who Falls Overboard (continued) - Transport Canada



Recovering Someone Who Falls Overboard (continued) - Transport Canada



When I do these on a sailboat I use a quarter turn.

On a powerboat some experimentation is a good idea.
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Old 26-04-2012, 15:23   #6
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

Thanks for that, jackdale... that's the way I learned years ago. We plan to do the MOB drill later in the week and I will copy these diagrams and give them to the new skipper. A picture is worth a lot of chatter... doing it makes it real. Capt Phil
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Old 26-04-2012, 15:41   #7
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

Well done!
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Old 26-04-2012, 15:55   #8
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

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Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
Thanks for that, jackdale... that's the way I learned years ago. We plan to do the MOB drill later in the week and I will copy these diagrams and give them to the new skipper. A picture is worth a lot of chatter... doing it makes it real. Capt Phil
A little trick for the Williamson. Rather than doing the math to 60 and 180. Stare at the compass and count it aloud, as the vessel turns.

Wheel over 10,20,30,40, 50, 60

Wheel over 10, 20 ,30, 40, 50, 60, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 1110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180
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Old 26-04-2012, 16:11   #9
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

One thing I learned years ago racing was that when someone goes overboard in daylight, have one crew member assigned to do nothing but stand and point to where the overboard crew member was. If they had foredeck or cockpit responsibilities, they were to have someone else take over their job. It gave the skipper or whoever was on the wheel a real time, accurate point to return to.
Having lost a crew member overboard at night between Powell River and Jervis Inlet decades ago, noting course and speed and doing the reciprocal course works. Unfortunately, the guy didn't survive due to extenuating circumstances even though we had him back alongside in less than 5 minutes.
MOB drills are critical to any boat handler regardless the size of the vessel. Capt Phil
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Old 26-04-2012, 16:34   #10
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

Phil

Losing sight of an MOB is "fatal." I teach using the MOB pole, it serves both as a datum point and as a wind indicator. That is the first flotation I want tossed.

I cannot disagree with your last statement. One huge advantage to be an instructor is doing these MOBs hundreds of times myself and then teaching them a few hundred times.

I have never had a person overboard, but I did "rescue" a lifering in Johnstone Strait in 25 knot winds. That plus more than a few hats overboard.

Night MOB are eyeopeners. Even with a strobe you cannot judge distance very well. I require the crew / students on night passages to wear pfd's, with strobes and tethers. Offshore is the same at all times on deck. I lost a gennaker overboard one night in Georgia Strait. That was a huge learning experience.
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Old 26-04-2012, 16:58   #11
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

You bring up a good point, jackdale... I rarely recall seeing a power boat with an MOB set up with a flag but can't recall seeing a sailboat without one.
It is truly a frightening experience to lose someone overboard at night but can't be worse than the one who went over the side. The tragedy I mentioned happened around 0230 and the fatality was NOT wearing a PFD but awoke on his own below on a seine boat and fell overboard trying to get to the top of the wheel house where I was operating the vessel with the rest of the crew. The inquest was long and difficult for all involved having to re-live the event over and over.
Your requirements for night time travel make a lot of sense but working commercial vessels 24/7 safety practices in those days were a little lax to say the least. Probably one of the reasons commercial fishing, towing logs and beachcombing were considered among the most dangerous in the 50's, 60's and 70's right up there with logging and mining.
Again, many thanks for sharing your suggestions and thoughts on introducing a new boater to safe boat handling. Capt Phil
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Old 26-04-2012, 17:18   #12
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

For a complete newbee, I like taking the boat out of the marina into open water, throw a fender over the side and then practice bringing the boat alongside the imaginary rubber dock, from all wind directions. This way his boat nor anyone else's boat gets damaged as a result of total inexperience. I don't believe in having a totally stressed out student. They do not seem to learn as quickly as a student whose confidence you build by not terrorizing them with every new skill they must learn.

When they can put a boat alongside a fender competently, then they are ready for learning how to tie alongside a real dock.
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Old 26-04-2012, 17:40   #13
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

Thanks, David M... starting in open water for familiarization is a preferred method with nothing to run in to. On the other hand, the marina was very empty at this time of year so I elected to do the first couple of handling experiences in the estuary.
My normal inclination was do a number of demos but thought I would try throwing him in the deep end with me right beside him to guide and take over if things went south.
The rapid rise in his confidence level with nearly every maneuver we did leads me to believe we approached the learning experience correctly in his case. But perhaps that is not representative of everyone in a learning situation.
Unlike jackdale, I'm not a professional instructor but I did spend a lifetime at sea. However, I'm very aware that knowing a subject is not the same as teaching it. That was the reason for starting this thread... to get feedback and suggestions from more experienced folks. I really appreciate your input and will incorporate your suggestions into the lessons later in the week. Thanks again, CP
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Old 26-04-2012, 18:19   #14
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

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Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
One thing I learned years ago racing was that when someone goes overboard in daylight, have one crew member assigned to do nothing but stand and point to where the overboard crew member was. If they had foredeck or cockpit responsibilities, they were to have someone else take over their job. It gave the skipper or whoever was on the wheel a real time, accurate point to return to.
Having lost a crew member overboard at night between Powell River and Jervis Inlet decades ago, noting course and speed and doing the reciprocal course works. Unfortunately, the guy didn't survive due to extenuating circumstances even though we had him back alongside in less than 5 minutes.
MOB drills are critical to any boat handler regardless the size of the vessel. Capt Phil
That's why something like a Williamson turn on a small powerboat is laughable.

MOB on smaller than 65 foot powerboats...you chop the throttles and back up keeping the guy in sight. For those that are now gonna lecture me on backing up to a MOB...learn to drive...I promise you won't run over him.

Stopping and backing down takes seconds not minutes. Sailboats different story...practice those return to target turns.

Any other method on a rec boat and the average crew will never keep the MOB in sight, all forms of turning back on course are a joke, so do it the easy tried and true way. Thousands of people use the same method to recover ball caps blown off their heads...it's gotta work for MOBs too...

Ifr someone STILL wants to lecture me on proper naval recovery turns...my boating safety and teaching credentials rival just about any on here in addition to my 23 years as a USCG SAR helo pilot/watchstander.
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Old 26-04-2012, 18:29   #15
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Re: Instructing a Total Newbie

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Thanks, David M... starting in open water for familiarization is a preferred method with nothing to run in to. On the other hand, the marina was very empty at this time of year so I elected to do the first couple of handling experiences in the estuary.
My normal inclination was do a number of demos but thought I would try throwing him in the deep end with me right beside him to guide and take over if things went south.
The rapid rise in his confidence level with nearly every maneuver we did leads me to believe we approached the learning experience correctly in his case. But perhaps that is not representative of everyone in a learning situation.
Unlike jackdale, I'm not a professional instructor but I did spend a lifetime at sea. However, I'm very aware that knowing a subject is not the same as teaching it. That was the reason for starting this thread... to get feedback and suggestions from more experienced folks. I really appreciate your input and will incorporate your suggestions into the lessons later in the week. Thanks again, CP
So far most of the suggestions are good ones. So often I had students say how other instructors did all the driving and lectured. After 8 years of being a USCG instructor pilot...I learned how to sit on my hands till I thought the safety bubble was about to burst. So hard to do with boating as if you aren't familiar with that particular boat...jumping in to salvage the situation can be daunting for you too and more than a "ding" may happen.

But getting someones confidence up requires them to behands on early in every aspect of the boat. You just can't overwhelm them or scare them...they will close up like a flower at sunset.

Many time I quote half day sessions but have to stop after only 2 hrs and give some money back...it stinks..but it's the right thing to do.
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