Port Townsend Maritime Academy Students Dive into Outboard Operations

This month Port Townsend Maritime Academy students have been working through their Outboard Operations Unit. Students pair up as helm and crew in Kachemak 10ft inflatable aluminum hulled boats to develop and practice their vessel operation skills.

“The vessel operation unit was important because I’ve been wanting to learn how to operate a boat, and I’ve wanted my boaters card for a long time.” – Landyn, PTMA Student

The unit started with an introduction to basic outboard motor handling, and launching and landing from the beach. Next, students worked on slow boat handling skills—which are necessary to dock safely—as well as line handling fundamentals for securing a vessel using a bowline and sternline. As a part of this, students have been working on their knot-tying skills, specifically locking cleat hitches, round turn & two half-hitches, and bowlines in order to temporarily secure equipment into boats and make fast vessels to docks.

Operating at speed is an all-time favorite amongst students, and students are knowledgeable about the changes in boat behavior and handling when operating on the plane as opposed to in displacement mode. 

“The most important experience I’ve had in the outboard unit is learning how to operate at speed and be safe in the boat in general. ” – Jesse, PTMA Student

As a part of the unit, students learn about fundamental safety procedures and recovery techniques. This includes learning about basic VHF operation and communication, as well as industry-standard hand signals. 

Students have all demonstrated the ability to recover a “crew overboard” in under 30 seconds using appropriate steps, and they can set up and recover a boat to dock using a hip tow. 

PTMA students took the boats over to Kilisut Harbor, which is 2 nautical miles from the Northwest Maritime Center, to look at some of the aids to navigation in the area. While we were there we saw a colony of Harbor seals sunbathing on the sandbank exposed by the low tides.

“I liked going at high speed and longer excursions to Kilisut Harbor and past Fort Worden to North Beach.” – Tanaya, PTMA Student