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Safe Boating at High Speeds

Take a performance driving class from these seasoned pros and learn how to fly.
Safe Boating at High Speeds

Performance 102: Holding Steady
With all the focus on turning, Barrie sees a lot of captains fail trying to maintain too much speed in a steady course. Running at speed is not just knowing how to work the controls; it’s about reading water.

“In performance boating, it’s not how fast you can go; it’s how long you can go fast,” he said. The most important thing when maintaining a course at speed is anticipating what’s happening on the water in front of you. What is the sea state? When is the next turn or nav marker? What are the other boats doing? Reaction times must be a lot quicker, like a snow skier setting a course through the moguls, and that comes with experience. And making mistakes.

“Sooner or later,” Barrie warns, “the boogie man will come. When you make a mistake and get caught, you usually know what you did before it happens.”

Safe Boating at High Speeds

You won’t see the next wave coming — or you’ll change your grip on the helm on re-entry, feeding in rudder.

It’s that experience thing. Like with Jim Waters in his DCB.

Running with his instructor, he broke 105 mph and held it. Then, decelerating to 50 mph, he went into his 180-degree turn. Using Martin’s 180-degree turn-and-return rhythm, Jim quickly gained confidence, and he bumped the speed up another 10 mph. With each turn you could see his self-assurance increase, and as his turns smoothed, he cracked a slight smile.

Safe Boating at High Speeds

Back at the dock we found Scott waiting for his wife to return. As they docked, Martin flashed a thumbs-up at them. Shellie had earned the coveted certificate that would hold down their insurance premiums and boost her bravado higher.

Stepping to the dock, Shellie gushed to her husband, “You’re gonna be givin’ up some throttle time, Scott.”

Maybe the schools need to add another class topic that dates back to kindergarten: learning to share.

* * * * *

The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons(r), or your state boating agency's Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to "Boat Responsibly!" For more tips on boating safety, visit

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