Boating is fun. Training should be as well. It’s this idea that led to the new Boating Safety Virtual Simulator launched at the U.S. Power Squadrons (USPS) 2014 annual meeting in March in Jacksonville, Fla.
Billed as the boating industry’s first safety simulator, the computer-based tool allows individuals to practice exercises such as docking and maneuvering a slalom course. The simulator utilizes three computer screens with a rotating field of vision, a steering wheel and a Mercury Marine throttle. It reacts to variable settings of trim, current and wind.
“Boating safety is the priority of the United States Power Squadrons,” said Lisa Herndon, project manager, Boating Safety Virtual Training of USPS. “Offering this hands-on simulator will be a fun experience among new and experienced boaters alike.”
The use of a simulator is not intended to replace live on-water training; however, it provides a close approximation that can be used as a training tool commensurate to existing and future USPS on-the-water programs requiring the same level of competency. Simulation allows students to navigate on-the-water scenarios where they contemplate and make decisions using critical thinking.
Five units have been funded and will be available for use by USPS later in 2014. The simulator was developed by Virtual Driver Interactive and funded through a U.S. Coast Guard grant. Other participating partner organizations include the National Safe Boating Council, BoatU.S. Foundation, Brunswick Marine, Mercury Marine and Boston Whaler.