Smooth sailing tips for `mature' boaters

February 2012 News

We qualify as "mature" but we're not sure we can claim to be boaters. We have no snazzy Sea-Doo, no super sailboat, no sexy Stingray, not even a quaint kayak.

But we're hooked on easy-going, recreational putt-putting around close-in waters with our slightly creaky, 18-year-old Godfrey Hurricane deck boat.

Some might say it's more deck than boat, but it is well-maintained, thanks to Intercoastal Marine Service, whose owners probably have considered opening a small satellite office on our dock to save time.

As our pleasant pleasure vessel ages, so do we of course. And here's a plus: We and a lot of other seasoned islanders have a chance to get useful information about making fun on the water safe, whether your boat is a spirited, like-new model or a spry, wily veteran of Marco's waters.

The expert on seniors and boating is Jim Eastman, author of "The Book for Senior Boaters," hailed as "informative, eye-opening and a real wake-up call, on point and entertaining."

Jim was in the US Coast Guard and its reserve component as well. He has the cred to tell us what we senior boaters need to know.

The first thing to confront, in our opinion, educated by Eastman, is to get over ourselves. As Jim puts it: "Millions of senior boaters don't want to admit they are starting to get aging traits, including forgetfulness, slower learning and retention, slower hand-eye coordination, changing vision, less flexibility, diminished hearing, more fatigue, diminished agility, increased agitation, lower alcohol tolerance and reduced strength."

If that list makes you want to lie down and take a nap, don't, because Jim has insights to share.

For fuzzy memory, he says we should start using notes, reminders of important things regarding boating.

For shower hand-eye coordination, "Riding a bike gives you physical and cardiovascular exercise; your mind is busy and you have to have mind-hand coordination not to run into a car or off the curb.

"If you have hand-eye problems, don't bring the boat into the dock. You might be able to operate it on the water but when you want to dock, if you don't have the ability to bring it in safely, have someone help you.

"If your hearing is going, you have to be alert and aware. So have someone with you to help alert you and to keep lookout.

"Every senior boater should have a buddy, a spouse or friend or crew member. You have to have someone in case of an emergency or in case you have an aging trait that doesn't allow you to operate the boat like you used to."


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