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Safety on even keel

By Staff | Apr 1, 2008

Bailey Raska and Kelsi Roberts studied with Phil Petersen, communications chair of the Iowa Great Lakes Water Safety Council, during their boating safety class Monday. Photo by Michael Tidemann

Monday may not have seemed like a good day to go boating, but Estherville Lincoln Central students in seventh and eighth grades still wrapped up a boating safety class.

Upon successful completion of the class, the students will be able to operate a boat in Iowa waters or in any other state which has a reciprocity agreement with Iowa.

Bill Maas, vice president of the Iowa Great Lakes Water Safety Council and water patrol officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said the class is required by youth ages 12-18 who want to operate a boat alone. Students in Emmet, Dickinson, and Clay counties took part in the training session. The class was held in Estherville Friday and Monday.

After completing the class, students qualify to participate in the Spirit of America, a hands-on training the first two weeks of June at the Lakes with various watercraft including canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and powerboats. Students get real-life experiences in the water, like learning how to recover from a tipped canoe. Phil Petersen, communications chair with the Iowa Great Lakes Water Safety Council, said students who complete the course offered the past several days can operate boats and jet skis until age 18.

“It’s a good deal for everybody involved, especially for the general public that is safer out on the lake,” Maas said.

Adults who take the same course that was offered at ELC can get a 10-15 percent discount on their boating insurance, Maas said. The course is available either as a take-home exam or on-line.

Maas said Petersen had helped raise $5,000 to 900 youth in the three-county area could be certified.

For more information, see www.watersafetycouncil.org