Boating skills simulator - and all free

Boat simulator in action
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Simulators are a great way of skill building before you can come to harm with the real thing, and BoatUS Foundation's new Boating simulator can give you hours of fun while you are learning skills without pain. The best thing is, it's all free, you don't have to be a member of BoatUS, and you don't have to even be in the USA! Granted there's no sailing, but the skills you'll practice are all highly valuable to any skipper.

The new downloadable simulator aims to use animation, simulation and video to keep boaters on the virtual 'water' anytime - and teach them how to navigate through congested and sometimes treacherous waters.

The Boating Simulator's interactive boating experience - complete with throttle, shifter and chartplotter - makes learning fun. 'Research shows that most people use visual cues when learning and when you combine it with active participation, comprehension and retention increase,' said BoatUS Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner. 'Simply put, you learn while you're having a great time driving the boat.'

The Simulator, which utilizes your keyboard, mouse and arrow keys to operate, is free to download at www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/games. During the game's voyage, players must use all of the tools at their disposal to navigate around aids to navigation as well as shallow water and other vessel traffic. Along the way you could be penalized for violating speed zones, approaching too close to another vessel or navigating out of bounds.

This is the third interactive video game offered by the BoatUS Foundation that puts new or seasoned boaters alike behind the helm of a virtual boat. The first two games, DockIt! and NavigateIt!, teach docking and navigation skills respectively. All BoatUS Foundation games are provided at no cost at www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/games and BoatUS membership is not required to play.

For the Boating Simulator, a standard home PC with Windows XP or newer and a DirectX 9.0 compatible video card is required. Simply follow the on-screen instructions and prompts to download to your computer