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Making good decisions

I grew up with a father who spent every available minute of his leisure time trolling in his bass boat. Usually, if I didn’t have a horseback riding competition to go to, I would tag along.

I could spend an entire day with him on his boat — doing a little fishing, helping myself to sodas and sandwiches from the cooler and sunning myself on the back of his boat with a good book in hand.

When we’d get back home, the sun would already be sitting low in the sky. It would be my job to rinse out and hose down the boat, polish all the chrome and Windex the windows, condition the seats and vacuum the carpet.

It was a lot of work. And, no, there was no reward for a job well done. It was just what was expected.

I didn’t really mind helping out, though. But through that experience as a teen, I came to the realization as an adult that it was far better to have a friend with a boat than to actually own one.

That is, until my husband bought a well-used Boston Whaler two summers ago. We’d just bought a place on the Patuxent River, and although our wedding vows from 14 years earlier forbid either of us from buying a boat or a horse (for obvious reasons), he went ahead and surprised the family with it one night a few weeks after we closed on the house.

It was a good decision.

My husband and I spent the last two summers becoming experienced boaters. I certainly have lots of sailing time under my belt both from my childhood and time in the U.S. Navy, but it’s different when you’re the captain and making all the decisions, especially when you have your most precious cargo aboard. Your interest in safety heightens with very young children in tow.

Getting the Boston Whaler was a good way to get our feet wet. I’ve known several folks over the years who’ve bought brand new expensive boats only to make rookie mistakes and injure themselves or wreck their boat. Now that we’ve got our sea legs, it’s time for us to get something bigger.

But that Boston Whaler is still going to come in handy this summer. It’ll the perfect boat for our kids to learn on.

Did you know that in Maryland any powerboat operator born after July 1, 1972 must pass a boater safety education course?

I can still remember how proud I was after successfully completing the course when I was a teenager. This was back before people owned personal computers, so you had to take the class in person. I wasn’t the only young person in the class, but I was the only girl.

Nowadays, you just need $34.95 and Internet access to take the Maryland-approved boating safety course online at www.boat-ed.com/maryland/.

My oldest girl will be getting her card this summer and getting out on the water. And we’ve got just the boat for her.

Boat training courses offered

If you’d like to get a taste of the boating life by taking an affordable on-water boat training course, the non-profit BoatUS Foundation is offering three-hour courses for beginners and experienced boaters this spring and summer at the Severna Park Yacht Basin.

“Intro to Boating,” “Women Making Waves,” “Precision Docking and Boat Handling,” and “Open Water Boat Handling” courses are available on select Thursday afternoons April through August. Each course is priced at $149. The minimum age is 18 years old.

Class size is limited to four students per vessel to ensure that each student gets sufficient time at the helm under the watchful eye of a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain.

Courses sell out quickly so early registration is encouraged. To sign up for a course or seek out others, go to BoatUS.org/On-Water.

Get involved with bald eagle nests

Are you counting down the days till the newest Charles County bald eagles make their grand entrance to the world?

Three eggs were laid this winter in Hope and Chandler’s nest located in Port Tobacco.

You can watch all the comings and goings of the adult eagles live from the eagle cam at www.charlescountyparks.com/parks/eagle-cam. Make sure to tune in the week of March 10 for “Hatch Week.”

If you like to get involved in citizen scientist programs, the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership would like your help monitoring bald eagle nests in Southern Maryland. Now is best time to keep an eye out for bald eagle nests before the leaves fill out this spring.

Anyone can participate, from reporting new nests not previously known to collecting data about nesting eagles. All you need are binoculars, three days of free time to spread out over the breeding season (January through July), and a small amount of time to collect and input data.

For more information and to volunteer, go to https://marylandbirds.org/bald-eagle-nest-monitoring/.

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