Flotilla offers safety class

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2016

By Henry Luzzatto


Everyone who operates a motorboat or personal watercraft has to take a boater safety course before getting out on the water beginning July 11.


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Fortunately for area boaters, the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Flotilla 59 is offering a free boater safety course from 6 to 10 p.m. on June 30 through July 1.

The course, approved by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, will cover everything from safe boating practices to navigation signs to first aid, said Peter Faleski, one of the course’s instructors.

“We’ll teach you everything you need to know to operate a vessel safely,” he said.

The Virginia General Assembly voted for a boating safety education requirement in 2007. The law was phased in, at first allowing some types of boats to be operated without completing a course.

Starting July 2015, only boaters under the age of 50 had to complete a course. As of July 2016, all boaters, regardless of age, need to complete a course.

“It’s a fine if you operate a motorboat without completing the course,” Faleski said.

Faleski, the immediate past flotilla commander at Flotilla 59, is one of three instructors. George Langdon, a licensed captain who has served more than 20 years with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and Scott Lowder, an EMT, will teach other parts of the course.

The class takes place at the Isle of Wight Rescue Squad, 13080 Great Spring Road, Smithfield. Registration can be completed online at the flotilla’s website, www.aux59.org.

Langdon said the class has 30 seats available, but the list is filling up quickly. Even if registration is closed, Faleski recommended signing up for the waiting list.

“We’ll often have a few late cancellations, so some people will get in off the wait list,” he said.

After taking the course, boaters will receive a DGIF boater card, which never expires. Boaters who operate crafts with a motor under 10 horsepower, as well as those who operate boats without engines, are not required to take the class.

Faleski said the course is just one of many safety-related classes the flotilla plans on teaching this summer.

“We’ll be teaching a class called ‘Suddenly in Command’ in the near future,” Faleski said. “It’s aimed at anyone who might be controlling a vessel in emergency situations.”

Faleski said the flotilla is always looking for ways to help the community and make boating safer in the area.

“We want to make the water safer for everyone.”