Keelin O’Reilly was excited to get out on the water and make the most of this year’s boating season, but there was one problem.
She had never driven a boat before.
It’s one thing to obtain a boating licence—specifically known as the Pleasure Craft Operators Card—but it’s another to actually get on the busy Okanagan Lake and dock your vessel when the wind is howling and the waves are crashing.
That’s why Kelowna Yacht Club launched the Boating Safety 101 course earlier this year, which allowed boaters to actually get out on the water with an experienced instructor.
The best part? It was free. And nearly 200 people signed up for the course in order to better understand the ways of the water
“It was really, really good,” O’Reilly says. “I had never driven a boat before. So we figured you can take the boat test, but actually taking the test and driving the boat are very different things.”
The course, which is open to anyone over the age of 13, was created by KYC’s team in partnership with Transport Canada. Course participants received their PCOC free of charge, followed by an hour of online orientation that answers any questions from the PCOC and also shares Okanagan Lake-specific information. The course’s final element is three hours of practical, on-the-water training in one of the club’s boats.
“It was a really pleasant surprise to have Kelowna and the surrounding area embrace the idea of the program, which shows how necessary it really is,” says watersports and education manager Sarah Mooney, who also acted as one of the instructors.
As Kelowna and the Okanagan continue to grow, so do the number of boats that are on the water each summer. Boating safety has never been more important, which is why the Boating Safety 101 course and an informative safety campaign were launched for summer 2021. The Kelowna Yacht Club is grateful for the positive response from the Okanagan community about Boating Safety 101.
“Our team was really excited to be able to offer this to our community, and we are so thankful for the wonderful response,” Mooney says. “It’s tricky to transition from the fully online PCOC course to a practical skills application without on-water practice. The community clearly agrees with the importance of boating safety judging by how quickly the course filled.”
O’Reilly agrees it is well worth the time for anyone who would like to take control of the family boat or simply hit the water once or twice a year.
“Our instructor went through a whole bunch of different things with us and practiced docking—and it was super windy that day—and did a bunch of boat safety as well,” O’Reilly says. “It was really valuable. Anybody who gets a boat licence should actually take the course.”
The Kelowna Yacht Club team is thankful to the Okanagan community for its support and enthusiasm.
“We continue to be blown away by how much the Okanagan cares,” Mooney says.
The course will run with Transport Canada support for the next two years. Anyone interested in taking the course next year can sign up to be on the mailing list for the 2022 schedule.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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