Classes teach boaters how to be safe

  • By Andrea Brown The Herald
  • Friday, January 24, 2014 12:35pm
  • Life

If it’s true the two happiest days of a man’s life is the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it, then Chuck Olson should be ecstatic.

“I’ve owned 45 boats,” said Olson, 83.

He bought his first boat in 1966, after his eighth kid was born. He didn’t ask his wife, but she must have approved because they later had a ninth child.

“I raised my kids sailing,” said Olson, who is better known on land for cars than boats. He’s the founding father and namesake of the Shoreline Chevrolet dealership. “We sailed and raced all over this area.”

Olson shares his love of boats as an instructor for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, a volunteer organization that promotes boating safety.

He teaches piloting and navigation sessions for the Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla in Shoreline, one of numerous sites statewide offering classes.

The auxiliary’s About Boating Safety class is for boaters and wannabe boaters.

“A lot of them don’t own a boat,” Olson said. “They just want to someday.”

The basic class is $25 and covers everything you ever wanted to know about boats, from knots and buoys to anchors and hypothermia.

An all-day course is held monthly on Saturdays at Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo. Weekly evening classes are held in Everett and Shoreline.

The class is like taking driver’s ed for operating a boat. Passing the course is the ticket to drive on water with a Washington State Boater Education Card.

All boat operators ages 59 and younger, starting at age 12, must have a Boater Education Card.

“It is required for anybody who is operating a boat that is 15 horsepower or more,” auxiliary volunteer Korky Heryla said.

That includes personal watercraft or any motorized watercraft. It isn’t required for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, drift boats and sail-only boats, but the state recommends it.

The cost of the card is $10. The fine for not carrying it is $87.

Cards are issued through the Washington State Parks &Recreation Commission. Many states require boating safety education.

“Once you get the card it’s a one-time, lifetime thing, but it’s still a good idea to take a boating class to keep up,” Heryla said.

“There are always new equipment, new laws and new regulations coming out.”

Boaters also can get a card by taking classes online and through the U.S. Power Squadron or other certified instructors.

Olson said the classroom offers hands-on training the old-fashioned way. Students use charts and pencils in his navigation sessions at the Shoreline Boating Skills &Seamanship class, which also qualifies for a Boater Education Card.

“I make them use the parallel rules and plot a course from Port Townsend to Victoria across the straits,” Olson said. “I have them tell me how many miles it is, and the latitude and longitude.”

Sure, there’s an app for that.

“But what if your smartphone battery dies?” Olson said.

Coast Guard classes

Mukilteo: About Boating Safety classes, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave. Sessions are Feb. 8, March 8, April 12, May 10, June 14, July 12, Aug. 16, Sept. 13 and Oct. 11.

Cost is $25.

For more information, call 360-435-4833 or email

Everett: Boating Skills &Seamanship, 12 sessions starting either Feb. 10 or Feb. 13, Everett Yacht Club, 404 14th St. Meets the educational requirements for the Washington State Boater Education Card.

Cost is $55.

For more information, call 360-435-4833 or email

Shoreline: Boating Skills &Seamanship, 12-week course, 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Feb. 13, Meets educational requirements for the Washington State Boater Education Card.

Cost is $55, or $75 for two sharing book.

Weekend Navigator, 10-week course, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Tuesdays, starting Feb. 25.

Includes boat safety, reading charts (electronic and paper), using tablets and smartphones as backup tools, plotting routes, tides and currents.

Cost is $95 per person or $145 for two sharing book and chart.

For more information, call 425-743-9295 or email

Classes are held at Chuck Olson Chevrolet auxiliary classroom, 17037 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline.


Seattle Boat Show

The Seattle Boat Show runs through Feb. 1 at CenturyLink Field Event Center and afloat at South Lake Union. For more information, go to

More in Life

Gardening tools: Experts help through hotline, drop-in clinics

The WSU Extention program is meant to help gardeners with their plant and pest problems.

Here’s how to add your plant sale to the Herald’s yearly guide

We’re taking listings now for our annual list of sales in April, May and June. Don’t forget yours.

Another sign of spring: Fun facts about the Pacific tree frog

This time of year, chorus frogs can be heard singing for a mate in evenings and mornings.

Great Plant Pick: Abies koreana, Korean fir

What: Aristocratic in appearance and slow growing, Abies koreana, commonly called Korean… Continue reading

Here are 7 locally made beers to try for this St. Patrick’s Day

Sound to Summit in Snohomish made one of the brews especially for Shawn O’Donnell’s restaurants.

Walla Walla nearly as famous for its grapes as for its wines

More than 130 wineries call the valley home, making it a destination for wine tourists.

The customer is king at Tabby’s Coffee in Everett library

Starbucks barista-turned-coffee shop owner Tabitha “Tabby” Tarter is big on customer service.

Here are 8 ways celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Snohomish County

Local events include Shamrock concerts, leprechaun sightings and Celtic dancing, bagpipers and more.

Schack’s juried art show features 121 Northwest artists

The show’s two judges awarded Rick Holst with the grand prize for his U.S. map, a work titled “Avoca.”

Most Read