A+ boating skills for sixth-graders at The Sanibel School
Living on an island makes life quite unique, so it is no surprise that going to an island school makes school even more interesting. Each fall, the sixth grade class at The Sanibel School takes a nine-week Safe Boating Class presented by the members of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva.
The students are given the Boat Smart booklet to learn and, hopefully, acquire a range of boating skills and knowledge: right-of-way on the water, effects of cold water, how to make May Day distress calls, safety on a boating vessel and everything needed to pass the test to obtain their Florida Boating License.
As the course starts, students are grouped into “boats” – clusters of three to four students – as they work together on the various boating projects. Not only do they select their type of boat – yacht, trawler, power – but they name it. And then, the competition begins!
Each “boat” competes via homework assignments and an array of drills: these involve skills such as knot tying, throwing boat lines, locating/fitting life jackets.
At the end of the quarter, the students take the final exam for the course, and then they are given the opportunity to take the Florida exam to earn their Florida Boating License.
As in years past, this year’s prize for the highest-scoring “boat” in each of the two classes consisted of a field trip to the Sanibel Boat Ramp and a 45-minute ride on the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District’s fire boat. The fire crew arrived in their red fire truck and, following introductions, everyone put on their Personal Flotation Devices and boarded the small powerful boat.
As they motored into the Gulf of Mexico, the fire personnel on board reviewed the safety features of the vessel and shared information on how the boat is used. When they were out under the Causeway Bridge on the boat, students were able to use the fire hose – some students’ aim were so high, the crew were rained upon – and practiced throwing the floating life ring T. All these “chores” were great fun, but reminded the students of the serious work our fire and rescue teams undertake to keep boaters safe.
This year’s winning students include: Summer Santoro, Grace Campanella, Jack Sergeant, Elizabeth Kremenchucker and Mia Martinez, who are in Dr. Kielborn-Jennings’ peer counseling class.
The Safe Boating course is taught in conjunction with the America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. Instructor Marti Squitieri has been teaching the course at The Sanibel School for over a decade.