By Carina Livoti
The United States Power Squadrons have been promoting boating safety and education across the country for over a century, but for Huntington’s Neptune Sail and Power Squadron Executive Officer Ron Friedmann, it’s as much about fun as it is about education.
“Our tagline is: ‘Come for the boating education and stay for the friends,’ and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said.
Neptune is one of 386 squadrons in the United States, Japan, and Puerto Rico and as such is part of the largest nonprofit boating organization in the world, according to Friedmann.
“Our mission is really the education of the public to teach them safe boating,” he said.
Neptune offers classes that range from practical to theoretical, from basic boating safety to electronic navigation techniques.
“If you really want to learn about boating, then you come to our advanced classes, where you learn how to read a chart and how to get here or there without hitting the rocks,” Friedmann said.
He added that courses, which are taught at local libraries, schools, yacht club rooms, and other available education venues, are open to anyone, but that members pay much less per course.
Membership is open to anyone who is interested in boating. Friedmann said that the only requirement is that you are in the process of taking or have completed a safe boating course, because the heart of the program is education.
“You do not need a boat; I’d say that at this point maybe 50 or 60 percent of our members have a boat. The others have learned that boating someone else’s boat has some benefits,” he said.
Neptune just celebrated its 75th birthday, making this its 76th boating season. In addition to courses, members have access to a mooring in Lloyd Harbor and a lively boating community that takes group trips and holds social events. Friedmann said the trips were great for new boaters, who get the opportunity to travel with more experienced boaters and gain confidence.
Neptune also does vessel safety checks, which help reduce boating hazards as well as hassles.
“If the Coast Guard is looking to board somebody and check their boat out, they will more likely look at people who have not had the vessel safety check,” he said.
More than anything, Friedmann said the main reason to join the group is for the camaraderie and fun.
“It sounds like it’s a lot of academic stuff, and that’s the underlying mission, but unless we’re having fun, we don’t wanna do it,” he said.