The Coast Guard Auxiliary, Penobscot Bay Flotilla 15 First District Northern Region, is putting the spring boating season on a fast track with a call for early registration for its annual adult education course in safe boating fundamentals.

Anyone interested in the Auxiliary’s eight-week basic boating course, to be held at the Camden Hills Regional High School, is asked to contact lead instructor Darrell Gilman at 338-5516, in Belfast, no later than Feb. 24 to register.

Classes meet 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays from March 1 through April 26 with one week off when local schools are on spring break. A $65 enrollment fee covers 14 hours of instruction, a text and study guide. One class will be held off-campus at a local marine dealership for discussion of equipment and maintenance.

Topics include boat types, equipment and motors, trailering, boat handling, aids to navigation, a navigation overview, lines and knot-tying, weather and radio procedure. Instruction applies to both coastal and inland boating.

Developed under auspices of the landmark federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 and approved by U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the course has graduated millions of boaters nationwide. Local instructors are members of the Auxiliary’s Rockland-Belfast area Penobscot Bay flotilla.

Coast Guard support of classroom study reflects the fact its accident statistics consistently show boater inexperience contributes markedly to serious accidents afloat. In recent years, as many as 85 percent of boating fatalities involved people who never took a boating course. Four boaters died in Maine waters last year. None was wearing a life jacket.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary dates from 1939 when Congress authorized organization of a body of unpaid, volunteer U.S. boat owners overseen by the commandant of the Coast Guard. Today, the organization has some 37,000 members nationwide and more than 100 in units from Rockland to Eastport.

The Penobscot Bay Flotilla, chartered in the late 1950s, meets the second Monday monthly at 7 p.m. at the Rockland Coast Guard Station, 54 Tillson Avenue.