The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 12-2 hosted a boating safety class designed for women Thursday via Zoom.

While last week’s Now in Command class was conducted virtually, future classes will be held in person, Mike Colacone, Flotilla 12-2 public education officer, said.

The next class, May 4, is full, but June 10 has availabilities and can be found online at Flotilla leadership decided at the beginning of the year to host virtual classes.

“Last year during the pandemic, headquarters told us they don’t want us to have any in-person or face-to-face classes for the fear of people contracting the COVID virus,” Colacone said. “… But because they didn’t get to us later in January, we started setting up Zoom classes, virtual classes for people to attend. Shortly thereafter, as it usually goes, after I did all the work of setting up Zoom classes and getting people scheduled, headquarters contacted us and told us that we can have in-person classes again. We just decided that we already had people that wanted to get into the Zoom class and they had already paid. We just decided to let that one go.”

Colacone believes accidents can be prevented or decreased when boating safety classes are available.

Pat Rule, Now in Command instructor, was a coxswain in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for 18 years. Before joining the group, she said she had little knowledge of boating. She now uses what she learned to ensure other women know what’s going on when they’re in a boat in case of emergency.

“The concept of the class came about years ago, and there was a recognition that a lot of wives didn’t understand much of anything about doing the boating,” Rule said. “Their husbands in Tellico typically wanted the boat. They liked riding, but they really weren’t encouraged and didn’t understand what needed to happen to be able to operate the boat, to use a radio. If something happened, they were at a loss.”

Before cellphones were “prevalent,” Rule said there was a couple boating on Tellico Lake when the husband had a medical emergency, and the wife didn’t know what to do. She said the event “sent ripples” through the Village that women needed at least the basics of boating safety training.

Rule shortly thereafter was approached to develop the class to help the women who didn’t know much about boating but were always on the water.

“The class is very much designed as an introduction to what questions and what information do you need to understand, so that if there were an emergency scenario, what are the decision-making points that you are going to have to think about, and what are you going to have to understand in order to know how to use your boat,” she said.

The class includes the basics of boating safety, but Rule always encourages women to take additional safety courses to learn more details about topics like navigation.

“In general, I think there’s no way not to sound kind of condescending or sexist, but it’s also a class taught by women to women, and it’s designed to be not intimidating,” she said. “They can ask questions that if their husband was sitting next to them that they feel like they might should not ask because it might embarrass him or embarrass her or whatever. It’s a less intimidating format for the ladies that are in the class.”