SOUTHPORT, N.C. — With summer weather approaching, many people are looking for fun ways to enjoy the sunshine. Oftentimes, that means people will be buying and driving boats for the first time. While they may expect a day of fun on the water, a lack of preparation and safety skills can lead to disaster.


What You Need To Know

  • Taking steps to prevent risk, such as safety training and having a checklist before leaving the dock, can make all the difference

  • Learning how to properly dock and understanding right of way for boaters can be extremely beneficial

  • Taking an extra five minutes before each boat ride to check that everything is working properly is essential

Captain Kevin Hennessey says that last year alone, there was a 300% increase in boat sales, mostly due to more people opting to go outside during the pandemic.

“We saw a massive increase in boat sales last year,” Hennessey says. “I’d imagine there was an increase in accidents too.”

With so many newcomers out on the water, the Captain makes it his goal to push proper safety. He offers US Powerboat training and safety classes at the Southport Marina.

Those classes focus on proper docking, understanding right of way, and other essential skills like understanding how to maneuver in different tides, currents, and winds and basic preparedness steps to take. 

“It’s invaluable to know how to dock properly, so no one gets hurt, how to handle your boat out in the Cape Fear River here or out in the Intracoastal, and understanding the right of way between boats,” Hennessey says. 

He also stresses things to check ahead of launchings, such as the engine, steering, throttle, battery, gas, and even the kill switch.

For Hennessey, staying safe adds to the fun.

“I mean, I just love being out here on the water; it’s my passion in life,” he says. “I love to give back, and train and I just think training and giving everyone a good feeling of going out there to be safe is fun; it’s just fun.”

He’s been in a dangerous situation on a boat himself, so he understands the importance of being prepared and having a plan.

He was teaching a sailing class when the steering of the boat froze into a turn. To make matters worse, a ship was approaching.

“Was I a little nervous? Yea, I was,” Hennessey says. “But I really felt confident in the skill set I had to do and just stayed calm.”

It’s a situation that can happen to anyone on the water, which is why the Captain stresses the importance of preparing for those situations ahead of time.

“No one wants to get hurt, you know,” he says. “Just be safe, just always air on the side of caution.”

Spending a day out on the water should be fun. Added stress from a lack of preparation and knowledge can lead to the day taking a turn for the worse quickly. 

Hennessey says that staying safe can be as simple as taking an extra five minutes to make sure everything is working properly before leaving the dock.

Captain Kevin Hennessey is offering the US Powerboat curriculum and a two-day certification course. Sailing courses and all women courses are also available. You can reach Hennessey at or go to the website.