It is never to late to hit the water, look into boater training! If you are already a big time boater, maybe advanced boater training can better fit your needs.
I know what you are thinking, this is another article trying to convince me to boat. Maybe you don't boat, maybe you already boat. But the fact of the matter is, some 70 million people recreationally boat every year whether as a captain or a passenger. And to make things even crazier, only 22 percent of actual boaters have taken a boating safety class.
Beyond simply boater safety classes, boaters are strongly encouraged to capitalize on the wide variety of both general and specific boater courses. These range from the basic rules of the road classes to advanced marine navigation to clean boating courses. These courses can be taken either online or on the water.
It is highly recommended that the course be done on the water. After all, Julius Caesar said it best, "Experience is the teacher of all things." That way, you actually have performed the tasks taught within the course instead of simply watching over the computer. Hands-on learning is highly encouraged for boating.
For example, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary's Boating Skills and Seamanship expands on your basic everyday boating course. These courses typically last 9 hours. You have up to three classes. Yet, for advanced lessons, you may have up to 13 classes to complete. These courses are offered through a variety of sources. Often, marinas offer sets of courses. Boating schools offer courses. Even community colleges, in some instances, will offer classes. The most common source for courses are found via the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons.
The U.S. Power Squadrons, for example, offer a wide range of courses ranging from anchoring, chart use, VHF marine radio usage or even crossing borders. Courses are a bit costly, yet, they are worth every penny. Expect to at least pay $150 for a basic boat course.
If you are looking to become more machine savy, then look into a boat-systems course. This type of course deals with the engine aspect of boats as well as electrical issues. In these classes, you will be forced to take a hands-on approach by touching and fixing engine and electrical parts. Boat-systems courses are offered by small marinas and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC).
Boats handle differently. Every boat has a different feel. While the hands-on approach is the most effective way for a boater to perfect a skill, these are the more expensive approaches to boater training. Surely, online courses will be much cheaper. Yet, you pay for what you get in terms of experience. An on the water course can teach docking, close-quarters boat handling and anchoring. Those are skills that are not taught sitting at a desk. Rather, the student is encouraged to learn those at the helm on the water with a hand on the wheel.
If online courses are the only option, the U.S. Power Squadron offers advanced courses. The ABYC also runs a few online advanced courses.