Tres Martin’s Safety Corner: Easy Does It At The Docks

There are two types of go-fast boat operators: Those who have made a mess out of docking at least once, and those who will. No matter who you are, much less think you are, it inescapable. And chances are your worst docking moment will come when a crowd is watching. It's just the way of things.

Even with big groups, docking doesn't have to be big drama. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.Even with big groups, docking doesn't have to be big drama. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.

Several years ago, I watched one of the biggest names in high-performance boating struggle to get a 36-foot catamaran on a trailer—the rolling equivalent of a dock if you will—for more than half an hour in 25- to 30-mph gusty crosswinds compounded by the seriously unfavorable downstream approach,the only one available, he was forced to take. In the end, it look four of us standing in waist-deep in the water and helping guide the cat onto its bunks to make it happen. This guy had forgotten more about bringing a boat to the dock or getting it onto trailer than most of us will never know, and yet on that day in those conditons he couldn't make it happen—at least without risking an expensive paint job—without help.

"You don't get killed docking a boat," say Tres Martin, the founder of the Performance Boat School that bears his name. "But there are ways to make it a lot easier and a whole lot less of an adventure.

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Tres Martin’s Safety Corner: Trim Smart For Rough Water

With the first wave of performance boats in the Florida Powerboat Club's Key West Poker Run already on its 160-mph journey today to the Southernmost point in the United States with rough, wind-whipped conditions predicted for the entire week—two more FPC waves of boats are heading down Thursday and Friday—we thought this would be the perfect time to check in with Tres Martin on running in nasty conditions. A former offshore racing world champion and the founder of the Performance Boat School that bears his name, Martin knows a thing or two about running in the rough stuff.

In rough conditions such as these—this photo was taken during the 2013 Emerald Coast Poker Run event—too much positive trim can lead to big problems. Photo courtesy/copyright of the Florida Powerboat Club.In rough conditions such as these—this photo was taken during the 2013 Emerald Coast Poker Run event—too much positive trim can lead to big problems. Photo courtesy/copyright of the Florida Powerboat Club.

"It has always has to be in the back of your mind that as the driver, because you're hanging onto the steering wheel and throttles, you never feel what your passengers feel," said Martin. "So you might have a misconception about what a great job you're doing.

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Tres Martin’s Safety Corner: Heighten Your Passing Awareness

Chances are good that if you own a high-performance powerboat you're going to pass other vessels. Even a "slow" performance boat, say one that tops out at 80 mph, is twice as fast as the average wakeboard boat, pontoon boat, runabout and cruiser. As the saying goes, "There are a lot more of them than there are of you"—and they have all the same right to the waterway as you do.

Using heightened awareness is all passing situations can help you get home in one piece at the end of the day. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.Using heightened awareness in all passing situations can help you get home in one piece at the end of the day. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

You need to be on your game big time—in control and aware of the situation—when you pass another boat. That boat ahead of you? It has the right of way as the "stand-on" vessel. You, as the give-way vessel, are responsible for executing the pass safely.

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Performance Boat School Adding New Instructor In 2014

Tres Martin, the nation's top high-performance powerboat driving instructor, is training Karen Benson as an instructor for his Performance Boat School. When her training is complete next summer, Benson, who currently works with the school to help manage its administration, logistics and marketing, will begin teaching the school's "Boating for Beginners" and "Performance Boat" courses. Based in Ocala, Fla., the outfit offers courses around the country.

Karen Benson: Karen Benson: "I think women will be less intimidated by a woman instructor."

"Karen already teaches about half of the indoor curriculum for our courses, from using life jackets and lanyards to situational awareness," said Martin. "She has been working with us since the beginning of March and right now she has 55 to 60 hours on the water with me and my clients in the boats.

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Tres Martin’s Safety Corner: Inspect Religiously

You just finished a perfect day on the water. Your boat ran flawlessly from the time you left the docks till the time your brought it home. Now it's back on the lift for the boat and back to the patio for sunset with your guests. You're already talking about where you'll head tomorrow. All you'll need to do is drop your boat in the water, fire it up and get going, right?

Wrong. Worst case, dead wrong.

No matter who well your boat ran the last time, pre-operation inspections are essential the next time. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.No matter who well your boat ran the last time, pre-operation inspections are essential every time. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

"Just like a pilot does with an airplane, you have to check your boat every time before you run it," says Tres Martin, the founder of the Tres Martin Performance Boat School. "Believe it or not, we have boats that our brought to us for the school that just can't make it to the water."

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