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Get a taste of the boating life: take on-water boat training at the Miami International Boat Show

by Scott Croft 15 Jan 08:17 PST 13-17 February 2020
Try your hand at boating by taking on-water boat training at the upcoming Miami International Boat Show, Feb. 13-17. © Scott Croft

Want to get a taste of the boating life or improve your on-water boat handling skills?

The nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water together with Freedom Boat Club of Miami Beach and the Miami International Boat Show February 13-17 offer a choice of four, fun and affordable at-the-helm, on-water training courses for beginners, women and experienced boaters at the show's location at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key.

Offered both in the morning and afternoon and taught aboard single-engine powerboats, most courses are affordably priced at $149 or less and include boat show admission. Class size is limited to four students per vessel ensuring each student gets sufficient time at the helm under the watchful eye of a U.S. Coast Guard-certified instructor.

"Intro to Boating" and "Women Making Waves" are three hours each and offered every day at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. "Intro to Boating" covers shifting and steering, basic docking, open-water handling and basic navigation, while the ladies-only course, "Women Making Waves," offers the same curriculum and is the perfect opportunity to spend a half day learning boat-handling techniques in a supportive environment.

For those whose time at the show is more limited, new to the training schedule this year is a special 90-minute "Intro to Boating - Short Course." Shifting, steering and close quarters boat control are taught in a condensed format, and the course is affordably priced at $65. With show admission included - a value up to $45 - that could bring the real cost of "Intro to Boating Short-Course training to as low as $20. It's offered on each day of the show at 2 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

For those with more experience or simply looking to pick up new boat handling skills, "Precision Docking and Boat Handling" may be for you. It covers 180-degree turnarounds, docking on both port and starboard sides, departing from a dock, and how to use S.C.A.N. procedures to avoid distracted driving. It's also offered every day of the show at 2 p.m.

The goal of the courses is to address the high costs typically associated with at-the-helm training, making hands-on boating education more accessible. The courses also offer show visitors the chance to try out recreational boating and give current boaters the opportunity to improve their boat-handling skills.

Space is limited. Students for must be 21 years or older. All course details and signup can be found at To see all upcoming on-water training courses from the BoatUS Foundation, go to

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