Charles Fredric Chapman 1881-1976 was the famous editor of Motor Boating Magazine for over 56 years and was an avid boater himself. In 1916 the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Roosevelt asked Chapman if he would create a manual for small boat handling. That “Must have book”, if you own a pleasure or sport fishing boat, became “CHAPMAN PILOTING, Seamanship and Small Boat Handling”. It is in its sixty-seventh printing today and is as relevant, even more so, than it when it was first authored over the last 105 years. Why? Because in the last few years people have been buying new boats, old boats, any boat, just to get away from the constrictions of the pandemic. The bays, coves, inlets, rivers, and even the coastal ocean are getting very crowded.
It’s all good but you have to understand the basics of seamanship and the best place to get that is by studying ‘’Chapman Piloting”. It’s currently in its 67th edition and is available as a traditional printed book, PDF file, or on Kindle. I like the printed version best but admit is a bit large. It could be used as a life raft but don’t let the size intimidate you. It is chock full of educational photos and illustrations and the newer version is updated to include the basics of all your electronic devices.
Chapman’s poses itself ideally by above all emphasizing SAFETY in all aspects of your boating experience. For Instance-how well do you know the rules of the road and right of way? If you are leaving the dock, you must have this down clearly!-It’s all there in Chapman’s and better than any day course could teach you plus you can refer and refresh your knowledge. Keep this in mind, piloting a boat is in no way like driving a car. Situations can be very fluid and you must know how to react.
How do you handle a boat in a following sea, in sudden high winds or a thunderstorm? How to deploy, in deep water, a sea anchor to hold your boat with its bow into the wind or how to make a sea anchor from a 5-gallon plastic pail? How to handle getting home to port when your GPS goes dead or reading the sky when you can’t get a signal on your radio or cell phone? You think it can’t happen-believe me it can. You might require a rescue from a boat in sight of land, but miles away. How do you contact them if they are not responding?
There are boating laws and regulations. They are not the same as on land. They are controlled by an Admiralty Court which has a different set of stringent rules than a civil court. Are you aware of that? You should be.
This book details what safety equipment you should have aboard
such as medical kit, anti-hyperthermia blanket, battery-operated lanterns and flashlights, life preservers and rings, survival suits, life rafts, and even how to dress for weather that can suddenly change.
Almost everything you need to know, study, and review is in Chapman Piloting. It has no equal in depth of learning the ins and outs of pleasure boating. Reading through one makes you a better and safer boater and that makes the experience much more pleasurable. I recommend you get the book or download it; it’s worth the weight of a pirate’s chest of gold.
See you on the water,