When you buy a boat, there are no required driver’s ed classes to teach you how to use it. But the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers one of the next best things with a free Welcome to Boating and Fishing weekend this May.
This annual event offers even more useful experiences this year thanks to a grant from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The weekend aims to reach everyone interested in boating and fishing, whether you’ve owned boats for years or are just getting interested in the pastime.
“You don’t even have to own a boat to enjoy boating,” says DNR Program Manager Donna Morrow.
New and returning boaters and anglers can come to Sandy Point State Park near the Bay Bridge for free demonstrations of key skills like docking, using the safety equipment you’re required to keep on your boat, and the dreaded launch of a trailered boat from a ramp. There are also fun talks on fishing the Bay and targeting invasive species.
If you miss the seminars offered at the Bay Bridge Boat Show and Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show, Chesapeake Bay Magazine and our sister company the Annapolis School of Seamanship (ASOS) will bring those free talks here, too, on how to best enjoy boating the Bay. (Find the seminar schedule here.)
ASOS sponsors Welcome to Boating and Fishing along with DNR, the Boat U.S. Foundation and the Marine Trades Association of Maryland. It runs May 6-7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sandy Point State Park boat ramps.
ASOS will offer several classes at a discounted price, like Women at the Wheel or the co-ed Intro to Basic Boating Skills for just $17 per class. Other courses include a fishing class for wome (and young girls ages 7 and up!) and casting practice. These paid classes require online registration ahead of time, and to take part in the angler classes, you need a fishing license which you can get online here.
There’s no need to bring your own boat; ASOS will use their own boats for courses and TowBoat U.S. will have a trailered boat as they demonstrate boat ramp launch steps.
Walk-ins can enjoy all the free seminars and programs, but DNR prefers sign-ups ahead of time. For more details and to sign up, click here.