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TODAY'S PAPER

Long Island scuba, lifeguarding, boating classes — get ready for summer fun now

Jerry McGrath, coordinator/instructor at Sportfishing Adventures, lectures a class on sportfishing on Long Island. / Picasa / Jerry McGrath

It’s the dead of winter, the holidays are over and the weather forecast is dreadful. Snow is on the way, changing to rain and then back again — or maybe not. Either way, “Yuck!”

Spend your downtime with some hands-on coursework that will prep you for next summer’s fun. From boating, fishing, swimming and scuba to CPR, becoming a lifeguard or even a captain, there are winter courses available...

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It’s the dead of winter, the holidays are over and the weather forecast is dreadful. Snow is on the way, changing to rain and then back again — or maybe not. Either way, “Yuck!”

Spend your downtime with some hands-on coursework that will prep you for next summer’s fun. From boating, fishing, swimming and scuba to CPR, becoming a lifeguard or even a captain, there are winter courses available that can introduce new passions, teach basics, hone skills or even result in an accredited certification or license. You’ll stay abreast of the latest regulations with a qualified instructor, interact with other outdoors enthusiasts and maybe get to try out the newest gear.

“You’d be amazed at the small stuff you can pick up in a boating class,” says Glen Sherman, public relations officer for the United States Power Squadrons, which sets up boating courses nationwide. “Our beginning boating courses have all the standard information you’ll need for your New York State Boating Certificate — required for anyone born after May 1, 1996, and at least 10 years old to operate a motor boat in New York waters — but they also present a lot of practical local knowledge.”

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Local classes also give you the chance to learn tips that you can put to use just as soon as the ice thaws.

Bob Finger, 73, of Selden, took Capt. Jerry McGrath’s Sportfishing on Long Island class in Hauppauge last winter, which brought in a different local expert or charter skipper as a guest each week to augment class discussions. “It really made a big difference in my catches last summer,” Finger says.

Some classes combine online course work with personal instruction to offer the best of both worlds. “That’s the case with scuba instruction,” says Randy Randazzo, proprietor of Hampton Dive Center in Riverhead. “For basic certification, you sign up, do your coursework and watch some videos at home before working one-on-one with a certified diving instructor in our private pool.”

Final certification involves a series of open water dives that can be set up in the spring. Says Randazzo, “But you can get everything else done now so you’ll be ready to roll as soon as it gets warm outside.”