The US Coast Guard will kick off National Safe Boating Week at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, May 19, with a free Water Safety Fair in Sausalito. The venue is Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in Fort Baker, right below the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. Parking is free.
The event will give the public (and the media) an opportunity to meet local first responders and learn about boating safety through demonstrations and discussions. A rescue helicopter demo (scheduled for noon), rescue boat tours, a K-9 explosive-ordnance detection demo, and information about boating safety, radio communications and paddle safety are all on the agenda.
"We’re excited to meet with the community to promote safe and responsible boating heading into the summer," said Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Whitlow, a boatswain’s mate who has helped plan the event for the last four years. "The Bay Area is a beautiful place to enjoy getting out on the water and we want people to get out there and have fun, we just also want them to make it back to shore safely."
Coast Guard personnel will also give away free “If Found” label for owners to stick on their small watercraft. If a board or boat is found, the sticker provides contact information so rescuers can determine if there is an actual emergency, or if the craft is simply adrift.
Earlier this month the Coasties in Astoria, OR, responded to a nighttime collision near Tongue Point, on the Columbia River, that resulted in a damaged sailboat and a boating-under-the-influence charge. A skipper was cited for BUI and negligent operation of a vessel after his boat collided with another sailboat. BUI can include alcohol, marijuana, illicit drugs and prescription drugs.
The CG says that in the Pacific Northwest, 87% of accidents list human behavior factors as a primary cause for the accident. Stats show that 30% of all accidents involve two or more boats, and 60% of accidents are caused by failure to follow navigation rules. Among drowning victims, 83% were not wearing PFDs.
"Most boating accidents can be avoided if boaters follow basic safe boating habits,” said Cmdr. Sean Cashell, response chief, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. “Please don’t boat under the influence and be aware of your surroundings and others on the water.”
The CG Public Affairs office reminds all mariners to follow these basics:
- Always wear a life jacket.
- Bring a radio (we’re assuming they mean a VHF, not an AM/FM!)
- Check the weather (again, a VHF radio can be useful).
- You are not alone.
- Stay afloat — of your changing environment.
- If you see something, share something (with nearby mariners).
See www.safeboatingcampaign.com for more on National Safe Boating Week, May 19-25.