Coastguard Nelson's from left, Rosie Musters, Rosie Furniss and Maureen May are running a boating safety course for women. Photo: Simon Bloomberg

Boating safety course for women

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Coastguard Nelson is running a course aimed at giving women sailors the knowledge to be able to take the helm if there is an emergency and they are suddenly left in charge of the boat.

‘Suddenly in Charge’ seminars have been part of Coastguard Northern Region’s boating safety education initiatives and now Nelson is “borrowing” the concept. The course is run by women, for women, and covers key safe boating topics so that they can take charge of the boat in an emergency.

Coastguard Nelson regional instructor Rosie Musters says the seminar is aimed at women with little or no boating experience, although all women are welcome to attend.

It will cover navigational rules, buoys and beacons, VHF radio operation, safety equipment and rope work, and lasts two hours.

Although Suddenly in Charge will give women a good understanding of basic boating safety, Rosie says it is not a substitute for the Coastguard’s Day Skipper, Marine VHF Radio Operator and Boat Master courses.

“There are lots of women out there who go out boating or sailing with their husbands or partners and don’t know anything about operating the boat because they are not the ones doing it,” Rosie says. “That’s okay until something happens and the women need to be able to take over.”

Coastguard Nelson committee member Maureen May, who will be helping run the seminar with Rosie and Rosie Furniss, says it’s important to have a seminar run by women, for women, because it can be less intimidating for them.

She says it’s also a better option than a husband trying to teach his wife the basics of boating safety because “that doesn’t always work very well”.

“It’s like people trying to teach members of their own family to drive,” Maureen says. “It’s not always the best thing for relationships.”

Maureen also stresses that the seminar isn’t stereotyping women, but is simply a response to “a very real need”.

“We have around 400 members of the Tasman Bay Cruising Club and there’s also the Nelson Yacht Club and all the boaties who take their families fishing. If half of those are wives or partners then that’s a lot of women out in boats and not all of them have the knowledge to take over if something goes wrong.”

Suddenly in Charge will be held at the Tasman Bay Cruising Club at 8 Cross Quay, off Akersten St in Port Nelson, on Wednesday at August 2 from 7pm to 9.30pm.

Registration costs $40 with all proceeds going to support Coastguard Nelson. For bookings and further information email maureen_may@xtra.co.nz or phone 0274866850.