Your practical boat handling skills are only as good as the underpinning theory knowledge that you have to go with it. Take time out this year to improve your understanding of IRPCS/COLREGS, Navigation, Weather etc.
With so many leisure boaters and commercial vessels operating in the same waters; knowing both your obligations and those of the other vessels is a possible game changer. No one wants to be on the receiving end of five shorts blasts… or for that matter defending your actions having been involved in a collision.
Get the most out of your Multi Function Display and connected peripherals. Understand the use of RADAR & AIS both its advantages and it’s limitations. These are both great tools if used correctly. The key word there is ‘tools’. The better you understand the tools in your tool kit the better you will be prepared to use those tools.
As much as we all want to embrace digital technology we must also retain some of the more traditional navigation skills. Charts will be with us for a while yet and being able to use both digital platforms and charts is essential. Use charts to support your use of digital and vice versa. Don’t wait until your chart plotter fails to dig your paper charts out.
Extend your boating season with a better understanding of the weather. Most boaters don’t need to forecast weather but interpreting a weather forecast is essential. Learn the meaning of terms such as: Imminent, Soon, Later and Slight, Moderate, Rough, Veering, Backing etc.
There are a number of very good online RYA courses designed to build your theory knowledge. If your learning style is better suited to instructor lead classroom courses then most RYA Recognised Training centres will have courses scheduled throughout the year and hopefully dates to suit you.