Still haven't taken that safe boating course because you just can't find time? The state Department of Natural Resources has come to your rescue and put its basic boating safety course on CD-ROM.
Boaters can use the computer-accessible course to replace classroom courses offered at Natural Resources Police offices and colleges throughout Maryland.
Natural Resources officials said they decided to make the course available on computer to give boaters easier access.
"We want to ensure that recreational boaters are knowledgeable and prepared while on the bay and Maryland's waterways," said John W. Rhoads, Natural Resources Police superintendent. "Having the boating safety course easily accessible on CD-ROM allows more people an opportunity to learn basic boating safety who would otherwise be unable to attend a scheduled course."
Created by National Public Services Research Institute in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources, the course prepares people for the test that is required for boaters born after July 1, 1972.
The course explains right-of-way rules and navigational charts and how to safely anchor a boat.
A score of 80 percent is required for certification.
Bob Graham, a Natural Resources Police spokesman, said boaters often are unaware of the rules.
"Some of the people don't even know that they need to have the certificates, don't know that there are rules for operating a boat," Graham said.
Some members of the local boating community say that increased safety among the county's young people is a must.
"There are a lot of people out there that don't have a clue, and many of them are adults," said Liberty Marina general manager Peter Anderson. "But the kids who have taken the course are often better operators than their parents."
Operation of personal watercraft, often known by the brand name Jet Skis, in particular is a major concern for many area residents.
"What I observe is a ton of people on Jet Skis out jumping waves," said John Paige Williams of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
"I'm not against Jet Skis. I'm against how they are riding them."
Maryland regulations have become more strict in the past few years.
Boaters are limited by state law to a speed of 6 mph near harbors and creeks, and personal watercraft must be operated at least 100 feet from boats and piers.
The boating safety course can be taken free at the Maryland Natural Resources Police headquarters at the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis.
The headquarters also is the place to pick up the course on CD-ROM; a $20 refundable deposit is required.
To reserve study time on a computer or to borrow a copy of the course on CD-ROM, call the Natural Resources Police headquarters at (410) 974-2248 during regular business hours.
Pub Date: 8/12/96