If you are born before January 1, 1989 or if you are sticking to your SUP when on the water, you aren’t required by law to take the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Boating Safety Exam. The certification is designed for folks operating motorboats and PWCs (aka Jet Skis) on the state’s waterways.
But some Nashville Paddle Co. and Nashville Power Yoga folks spent our Friday night at the Ellington Agricultural Center taking the class and getting certification, and our water-loving brains learned a lot. (I know! Exciting Friday night. Don’t worry, we had margaritas afterwards.) Our instructor was a good combination of funny and serious. He had some entertaining advice about what not to do with your friends when you’ve been out on the water with a few beers: “If you say to yourself, ‘Hey, this seems crazy,’ it is probably crazy.”
But he also gave us tons of serious, practical advice, too, all of which will be useful this summer. We may not be driving a powerboat or a PWC, but we certainly see them crossing our paddling paths. We all share the same launches, waterways and beaches, after all. Getting a reminder on the right of way rules for boating was useful. Getting the low-down on emergency rescue and other tips when things go wrong was invaluable. Getting the TWRA nod of approval on our new MTI inflatable PFDs was priceless.
We’d love to see more stand-up paddlers get this certification. The more paddleboarders who know the boating basics, the better.