Did Santa Bring You A PWC?

Take A Boating-Safety class Before Hitting The Water

PHOENIX — Was Santa extra good to you this holiday season? Did he fit down the chimney with a personal watercraft in tow?

If you got a personal watercraft (PWC) for the holidays, the Arizona Game and Fish Department urges you to take a boating-safety class before you hit the water this summer.

PWCs are an affordable way for people to get out and enjoy the numerous waterways that are available to Arizona’s boaters. "Operators need to keep in mind, though, that personal watercraft are like any other watercraft.

"Whether it be a fishing boat, ski boat, or PWC, the key to safe and prudent use lies with the operator," says Ed Huntsman, a boating-safety specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Personal watercraft are easy to trailer, store, and maintain and have opened recreational boating to many who otherwise would be left at the dock or on the shore. The typical buyer is around 40-years-old with a family and looking for a three-passenger boat that can tow a water-skier.

More than 75 percent of all PWCs sold in the U.S. in 2004 were three-passenger vessels, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

"Personal watercraft are being used more often these days as family vehicles," says Huntsman. "Whenever friends or family are getting ready for a day on the water, I always give them the following safety tips:

  1. Maintain an awareness of where you are and what you’re doing, especially after being in the sun all day and bounced around by wind and waves.
  2. Life jackets save lives, so wear them.
  3. You cannot go wrong by taking a boating-education course."

Adding alcohol into the mix significantly increases your chances of having a good day on the water go bad, adds Huntsman. "Sober boating saves lives," he says.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Power Squadron, and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offer boating-safety courses, which in many cases are free.

To learn more about boating safety classes, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at azgfd.gov/boating. You can also see a list of boating safety courses offered by all three agencies by logging onto Arizona Safe Boating Council Class Schedules.

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