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Maintenance classes from ABYC

The organization that trains professional marine mechanics now offers classes for do-it-yourselfers

The organization that trains professional marine mechanics now offers classes for do-it-yourselfers

Tired of waiting for routine yard work on their boats, some boaters are going back to school to learn how to do more maintenance themselves.

Do-it-yourselfers are receiving training now in boat electrical and diesel engine maintenance through the American Boat and Yacht Council, the organization that trains and certifies marine mechanics. ABYC, of Edgewater, Md., scheduled three two-day classes in late 2005 and early 2006, and the response to them suggests that demand for technical education justifies more boater classes, says ABYC education director Bonnie Barsa. A diesel engine class scheduled for March in Mystic, Conn., is full, and a yacht club has asked for another class just for its members.

“They tell me they can fill it up,” she says. (Barsa says she still had openings in a Feb. 15 and 16 electricity class at the Miami BeachConvention Center during the Miami International Boat Show.)

ABYC traditionally has focused on setting boatbuilding standards and training technical specialists for the industry, but Barsa says boaters often ask if they can take ABYC classes geared to professional mechanics. “We discourage it because the classes are very technical and very advanced,” she says.

Recently ABYC began offering basic electrical and engine classes as part of its professional certification program. It has enrolled some boaters in the basic electrical course for pros, but even that is a little too technical for most do-it-yourselfers. So ABYC decided to gear up classes just for the boater.

Barsa says safety is the chief concern of the boater curriculum. “We know boaters already are out there doing the work,” she says. Sometimes the results, if the work is not done right, are catastrophic: electrical fires, engine breakdowns, for example.

From the boaters’ perspective, taking over more maintenance responsibilities is as much a time as a money issue, Barsa says. “They don’t want to have to take the boat to the yard [for routine maintenance] and do without it for three to five days,” she says.

The new electrical course gives boaters basic information they need to perform simple repair, troubleshooting and maintenance procedures on their boats’ electrical systems. The diesel course shows participants how a diesel engine works and helps them understand the needs of their engines and how to keep them running at peak efficiency.

Barsa expects to have another diesel class in September, and is considering a corrosion and gasoline engine class. She says future classes will depend on results of surveys of what boaters want.

ABYC has offered technical seminars to the industry since 1989 and professional certification courses since 1996. In 2005, 1,273 people attended ABYC seminars or certification courses, keeping the ABYC education staff quite busy, Barsa says.

For more information call ABYC at (410) 956-1050 or visit www.abyc