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      Winter is a good time to learn boater safety

      As we enter winter, boaters are bidding farewell to the waters of Lake Superior. But the volunteer-based United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is already preparing for next season, when boaters take to the waters.

      "Even though we're totally volunteer, we're trained to the same degree the active duty is," said Perry Laing of the USCG Auxiliary. Those in active duty at the Coast Guard depend on the auxiliary's generosity and commitment to safety. "They do a lot of help around the station; help us with trainings, team coordinating training," said Joshua Kuhn of the US Coast Guard.

      The auxiliary trains not only in the water but also in the classroom, teaching the public how to stay safe when they leave here. The auxiliary will be holding their annual boater safety course this upcoming January.

      "We're going to talk about proper equipment that you'll need, the proper way to operate your vessel, the rules of the road," Laing said. The 13-week course covers the basics from tying knots to navigational tips. Despite so many boaters hitting the waters every year, you'd be surprised by how many of them are actually trained.

      "Every time somebody gets stopped by the Coast Guard, the first thing we ask them is if they've had a boater safety class, and most of the time we get a no answer," Kuhn said. Boaters wanting something to look forward to during the winter may want to anchor themselves in the class which begins at 7 p.m. on January 19 at the Superior Dome.