Partner in command — no yelling!

Published 7:50 pm Friday, April 26, 2019

For everyone’s safety, invest in teaching a spouse, partner or significant other a few basic boating skills, primarily, how to use the radio along with how operate the boat, even getting to the dock. Guys, we typically act as vessel captain, but if you, the captain, fall overboard or have a serious injury, who is in charge? Are you and others on board helpless, victims themselves now?

As males, we are poor teachers when it comes to our spouse-partner because we are yellers. Mates, actually no one, responds to yelling.

Several companies advertise themselves as “No yelling” or “Boating for women, by women.” Their courses are hands on, lasting from five to 12 days costing about $200 – $300 a day. Other professional boating groups have the experience to teach our spouse-partners for less or little cost, such as the local Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Worth the investment? What is your life worth?

My wife had seven days of training. I learned that I needed to step back, be the first mate, and let her try. She sometimes succeeded, sometimes failed, tried again then succeeded. Boat captains or a friend should train their spouse-partner about boating.

But really … NO yelling!

Basic boating knowledge along with experience spouse-partners need:

  • How to start and stop the engine?
  • How to put the transmission into gear and what happens? Then how to take it out of gear and what happens?
  • How to use the radio especially in an emergency?
  • How do I steer a boat both forward plus in reverse?
  • Where are the life jackets and how are they worn?
  • Where are fire extinguishers and signal flares plus when and how do I use them?
  • What are the basics of navigation, use of compass, chart plotter, radar plus observation?
  • How to anchor plus retrieve the anchor?
  • What is the correct way to tie and untie a boat?
  • How do I dock and undock a boat?
  • How to remove and reattach the power cable?
  • Where and how to add fuel plus what kind of fuel?
  • Where do I add fresh water?
  • Where is the pump out and how do I use the pump out?

A few hours teaching your spouse, partner or boating friend; or investing in someone else teaching them basic boating skills will save your bacon.

This article is given courtesy of Biff Matthews and the Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron, America’s Boating Club.

The local Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron will present a seminar on Partner in Command on May 4. To register and to learn more about boating courses and boating safety, email Linda, our education officer, at or contact her at 252-964-3009 for the upcoming public seminars and courses.