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BOATING WITH BARB: Fresh course offerings through Cape Lazo Power Squadron

Barb Thomson
Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron is offering Zoom-based training classes for many boating essentials. Photo supplied

Barb Thomson

Special to the Record

Got the wintertime boating blues?

Can’t decide whether to get a tattoo or pick a fight to pass the time?

Here’s how the writer Douglas Adams described this time of neither here nor there: “that terrible listlessness which starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know that you’ve had all the baths you can usefully have that day… and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’ clock, and you will enter the long dark tea-time of the soul.”

Now that’s a dangerous time for idle hands. For lack of distraction and fear of a radical haircut to show off a fresh tattoo is usually when I decide to take a boating course and learn (or re-learn) something new instead.

Leslie Giebelhaus is the education officer for Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron.

“COVID has certainly curtailed Cape Lazo Squadron’s in-person training activities, but our instructors have successfully adapted to run Zoom-based trainings, particularly for the very important VHF radio course, ROC-M (Restricted Operator Certificate-Maritime),” says Giebelhaus. “We are about to begin a blended learning version of the Beyond the Basics/Intro to Navigation course where students will study independently and meet weekly with instructors using Zoom. This allows students to have time with our experienced instructors to pick up important local knowledge, beyond what’s on the page. We hope to have in-person sessions again soon, but our instructors are prepared to continue virtually.”

Boating Basics was one of the first Canadian Power and Sail Squadron (CPS-ESP) courses I took through the Cape Lazo Squadron. Before COVID, their classes were held at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School; at half-time we mingled in the hallway, where we newbies traded our hopes and boating fears. Although the same course was online, I knew there was no better teacher than someone who could add lived experience to the rule and safety books. When one of the instructors talked to the class about his passage through Malibu Rapids to Princess Louisa Inlet, the memory of awe and reverence still moved through his voice. It was all tide and current tables until an inspiring story translated those numbers into a reason to learn even more.

Further course information is available on the Cape Lazo website and on the CPS national site or email

Barb Thomson is a boating enthusiast who writes regular columns for the Comox Valley Record.

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