Boaters University has released its fifth online course, “Safety & Rescue at Sea,” featuring retired U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mario Vittone as lead instructor. The course opening comes on the heels of a Coast Guard report concluding that most of the 4,300 boating accidents in 2017 (resulting in more than 650 deaths) could have been prevented.
The report noted that 81 percent of the deaths were boaters who had not received safety instruction. And while the reference was to standard safety courses offered at the state level, the people of Boaters University suggest that the Vittone course takes a deeper, more wholistic approach to the issue.
“I’ve spent my life studying the difference between the boaters I met at work and everyone else,” says Vittone, who capped his government career as a maritime accident investigator. “In all the case files and everything I’ve seen or read about—all the mishap investigations—one big difference was always staring me in the face: Boaters who don’t call for help make plans to need help. Having a good day on the water is at least in part about planning to have a bad one.
“This course is everything I’ve learned about how to stay safe on the water and make it back home like you intended to—driving your boat, not riding in the back of one of mine or in a helicopter.”
The course consists of 11 modules and bonus lessons totaling more than 3½ hours of instruction, supplemented by hours of reading material and reinforced by quizzes, to be added in the near future. Modules include “Hazard Awareness,” “Understanding Search & Rescue,” “Training & Drills,” “Personal Survival Equipment,” “Vessel Survival Equipment,” “Liferafts” and “Handling Bad Days.”
Vittone has been a regular contributor to Soundings magazine and his writing has appeared in Yachting, SaltWater Sportsman and Reader’s Digest. During his career he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary heroism, was named as the Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year and received the Alex Haley Award for Journalism.
Vittone is assisted in the course by retired Warrant Officer Michael Carr, whose career included diving for the Coast Guard, piloting vessels for the Army and serving in the merchant marine. Vittone says he is one of the “saltiest individuals” he has ever known. Carr is also an author; he wrote “Weather Predicting Simplified.”
“Boaters University is proud to offer ‘Safety & Rescue at Sea’,” says Gary DeSanctis, vice-president of the AIM Marine Group, which operates BU. “Nowhere will you find a better course on how to evaluate risk and develop a wholistic approach to safety for your boat, the people you boat with and the places you go. This course is for the owners of vessels large and small, cruising inland waters or crossing oceans.”
Boaters University’s first course, “Marine Diesel Maintenance and Troubleshooting,” was launched one year ago. Another course, “Fundamentals of Seamanship: Navigation Rules,” is also relevant to the 2017 accident report. According to the Coast Guard, there were 257 accidents (resulting in 22 deaths and 165 injuries) because boaters failed to heed the “rules of the road.”
Students at Boaters University can browse the material on their phones, laptops or tablets—wherever there is an internet connection. You may revisit the material as often as you'd like, any time of day or night. Once you buy it, it’s yours forever. Dissatisfied customers have five days to obtain a refund.