Well, it's only taken me 8 months, but I finally did get my boating license! This will open a whole 'nother world to us. The bay is beautiful here and there are opportunities for kayaking, sailing, water-skiing, fishing, diving, etc. Plus, there are a couple of beaches, which I hear are full of shells, that can only be accessed via boat.
The process of obtaining a license can be boiled down to four steps.
1. The Written Test - pick up a study packet at the Marina, study, then take the test when you feel ready. While the test wasn't difficult, it DID require studying! The test covers the basic rules of boating, the major landmarks within the bay, flags and their meanings, and rules specific to renting an MWR boat.
2. Driving Lessons - after passing the written test, an appointment for driving lessons can be made. For me, I had to wait about 5 days. The lessons consist mainly of teaching docking and maneuvering in small spaces. I grew up on boats, so I was fairly familiar with the basics of operating a boat, but it sure has been a long time and I was quite nervous! With some coaching, I quickly picked it up again and was able to make it through the whole lesson without crashing! I think my instructor was just as thankful as I was!
3. Driving Test - it seems that sometimes the lesson and test can happen at the same time, but often it requires another appointment for this. The test isn't hard, as long as you are a quick learner during the lessons and are able to duplicate the skills that were learned!
4. Orientation - this was by far the best part of the entire experience! Once the driving test is passed, an orientation of the bay can be scheduled. One of the employees takes a group for a boat ride around all of Guantanamo Bay. My trip lasted around and hour. It was the first time that I had traveled to various parts of the bay. Even though I went on a sailing trip and have ridden the ferry numerous times, I had no idea there was so much of the bay that I hadn't seen! The map that I had studied for so long on paper came to life during the trip. Since we share part of the bay with Cuba, it is essential to know where our boundaries are. Unexploded Ordnance is another danger posed in part of the bay.
Oh, one more thing to note: I had mentioned in another post that the entire process was free. Well, I was wrong about that...when I went in to get my actual license, I had to pay a whopping $5, but I think I can handle that! ;-)