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(News-Press.com) - Boating is a way of life in Florida — a way to feel sunshine and freedom, a way to escape the daily grind, a way to feel at one with nature as the waves spout fine, refreshing mist onto your shoulders, and a way to show off to your frozen friends in Winnipeg that you don't have to wear a shirt in December.

It seems that everyone around here — from families to hard-core fishermen to weekend warriors — enjoys the miles of canals, the glittering causeway, the churning river or the operatic ocean. But one thing ties all of these enthusiasts together: Boating is serious business and takes some serious knowledge. You can't just grab a boat and take off into a back bay somewhere. You have to understand safety concerns, navigational rules, terms, equipment and much more.

So, how much do you know? Take our quiz and find out. Come on, it'll be fun. Give it a shot, without the use of your neighborhood search engine. Answers are on page 3, but don't peek.

1. So you just bought a boat. How long before you must register it with your local tax collector's office?

A. Within 15 days

B. Within 30 days

C. Within 60 days

D. You know, I'll get to it when I get to it. Quit bugging me. Because I'm all about the open water and the sunshine, man, and I've got dreams to chase.

2. You were born after Jan. 1, 1988, and you want to operate a boat in Florida. What will you need?

A. A boating license issued by the state

B. A valid driver's license and the completion of a boat-driving test

C. To complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a ID card from FWC

D. A passport, a birth certificate, a blood sample, and an ability to recite Quint's USS Indianapolis monologue from "Jaws"

3. When a man goes overboard, which of these actions is next in the drill after shouting "man overboard"?

A. Toss a flotation device toward, but not on top of the victim

B. Radio the Coast Guard immediately

C. Send a strong swimmer overboard to assist the victim

D. No joke here. There were 736 reportable boating accidents and 62 boating-related fatalities in Florida in 2013, according to FWC. Falling overboard and drowning from lack of wearing a lifejacket is to blame for many of these numbers. Make sure everyone on board your boat is wearing one, or you are just a bad captain.

4. What is a Passarella?

A. A storage space in a boat's stern area

B. A retractable brow often installed on yachts

C. A small boat being thrown end-over-end in very rough seas

D. A drain hole on a deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or (with drain pipes) in the deck itself

5. Where do the terms "port" and "starboard" come from?

A. Ancient boats carried wine (port) on one side of the vessel and frequently decorated boards on the right side with little stars.

B. The origin is lost in the mist of history.

C. "Starboard" references the old practice of having a steering oar on one side of the ship. "Port," translated, is the side of the boat that went up against the shore or jetty.

D. No answer here, just a fact: These terms are used so people on board can differentiate the left (port) and right (starboard) of the actual boat, and not their own left and right, which might cause anarchy and close-quartered fisticuffs.

6. What colors are used for boat lights?

A. Red, green and white

B. Red and green

C. Green and blue

D. Any color and combination as long as they can be seen at night

7. How slow must boaters go in a manatee zone?

A. 5 to 10 mph

B. Slow speed in certain times of the year and idle speed in others for minimum wake

C. Just slow enough to go with the flow of other traffic.

D. "I've never heard of these so-called 'manatee zones.'" Seriously, slow down. To report an injured, dead, harassed or orphaned manatee, call 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).

8. Afternoon in Southwest Florida means the possibility of storms. You hear thunder. How can you best calculate the distance of an approaching storm?

A. You can't. Einstein proved that this kind of witchcraft is mathematically impossible.

B. Count the number of seconds between the lightning flash and the thunderclap and divide by five. This will calculate the distance in miles.

C. Count the number of seconds between the lightning flash and the thunderclap. Each second equals a mile.

D. Fact: Remember, if you are about to get caught in a storm, make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket. Determine your location and plot a course back to shelter.

9. Which side of the channel should you cruise in?

A. The left

B. The right

C. Either side as long as you aren't in the path of another boat

D. Straight down the middle, which is just what politicians in our country need to understand to get us out of our philosophical quagmire.

10. In what movie did James Bond jump his boat over land while Sheriff J.W. Pepper looked on?

A. Tomorrow Dies Today

B. If Today Were Only Tomorrow, We Could Not Die

C. Octopussy

D. Live and Let Die

11. Two beacons placed a suitable distance apart to show the centerline of a channel are called:

A. A fairlead

B. A range

C. A header

D. Articulated beacons

12. When two sailing vessels approach each other, each with the wind on a different side, the vessel ______ must keep clear.

A. With the wind on its starboard side

B. With the wind on its port side

C. Nearest to the direction of the wind

D. With the wind flowing majestically through its lovely hair

13. What are the minimum safety equipment requirements for boats less than 16 feet?

A. Life jackets, fire extinguisher, visual distress signal, sound-producing device, backfire flame control, ventilation ducts and lighting.

B. Life jackets, lights, horn, fire extinguisher, rope, compass

C. Life jackets, anchor, bilge pump, flare, horn, oars

D. Life jackets, a DVD of "Titanic," a big bucket, a flag featuring skulls and crossbones, an eye patch, extra towels

14. As you return from the sea, identifying numbers on navigational marks:

A. Increase in value

B. Are the same on both sides of the channel

C. Decrease in value

D. Strangely disappear, making you question if you are in thick fog or if your tenuous grasp on reality is slowly fading, fading, sinking like your childhood dreams.

15. hat is the best movie that features a boat?

A. "Titanic," for its special effects, cloying love story, Celine Dion song and the bizarre performance from Billy Zane

B. "Dead Calm" for its sparse eerieness, harsh realism, islolating scenery and the bizarre performance from Billy Zane

C. "Moby Dick," the 1956 version with Gregory Peck, for its class, spectacle and old-school charm. Note: You can only select this one if you know the name of Ahab's vessel. Don't lie, either.

D. "Jaws." Even though the movie is about the shark, the boat (Orca) becomes a secondary character, and you mourn its loss even though it does what it has to do to keep Roy Scheider afloat to hit the kill shot.

ANSWERS: 1, B; 2, C; 3, A; 4, B; 5, C; 6, A; 7, B; 8, A; 9, B; 10, D; 11, B; 12, B; 13, A; 14, A; 15, free point for everyone as long as you feel passionate about your choice. By the way, the name of Ahab's vessel is the Pequod.

Bill Jefferson, News-Press archives, boatingexam.com, boatus.org

How did you do?

0-5: Hey, paradise isn't for everyone, you know. It's OK. There are other hobbies.

5-10: Depending on the specific questions you missed, you might want to brush up a little bit, if only just to brag to your boating friends or win the occasional bar bet.

10-14: You are succeeding at boating and trivia. Therefore, you are succeeding at life. Very nice!

15: Really? You saw the answers at the bottom and couldn't cover them in time, could you?

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