BOAT SAFE, BOAT SMART, BOAT SOBER…Don’t become a STATISTIC! ~  As National Safe Boating Month is upon us and the season heats up, we would like to spread the message of safe and responsible boating. This year, we will continue to educate the boating community about the importance of safe boating.   After all ……” Safe Boating is No Accident”.

In a conversation with USCG Boatswains mate Second Class Perry Officer Barrett Brauch we asked what is most important for boaters to remember this season and Barrett came up with a few suggestions.

 First and foremost : Make sure everyone wears a lifejacket. The law only requires you to have a lifejacket for everyone aboard but when things go wrong…seconds can matter. Petty officer Brauch noted that his whole time at search and rescue in Galveston the only time they recovered a body and not rescued someone was when a man was not wearing a life jacket. Your odds of survival are many many times greater if you have your life jacket on. That’s a fact.

You should take a boating course and know the rules of the road. This is extra important in any areas that have commerical marine traffic.  You will be expected to follow the rules of the road by all commerical vessels. These ships and tows have to know your intentions or you could cause an accident and be held accountable. There are many free and inexpensive courses for you to attend. Click here for a list of USCG approved courses to make you a better boater.

Before you depart :

File a float plan with a friend or relative. It’s a form that tells everyone your plans that way if anything goes wrong it’s critical information for the USCG search and rescue.

Download this USCG Float Plan.pdf File

Other things to do before departing:  Check the weather, tides and currents. At a minium make sure anyone who is not a good swimmers has a lifejacket on. Show your crew how to use all safety equipment aboard and where it is located. Make sure someone else knows how to use the VHF radio in an emergency if needed. Make sure your anchor and it’s rode is ready to use. Show someone how to shut down the engine. Inspect your bilges for leaks. If you have an inboard engine make sure you run your bilge blowers long enough for a complete exchange of air in your engine compartment before you attempt starting the boat. Always check your engine fluids before starting. Do not forget to unplug your shore power cable before departing.

JUST DONT DRINK while in command of your vessel. While alcohol consumption is not illegal while boating, boat operators should be aware of the laws and potential penalties for operating the vessel while under the influence. … Just like with driving a motor vehicle on land, there is technically no safe amount of alcohol that someone can drink and then operate a boat. Even if you let someone else steer your boat you can be charged with operating a vessel under the influence if you are under the influence.

Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments increase the likelihood of accidents afloat for both passengers and boat operators. U.S. Coast Guard data shows that in boating deaths involving alcohol use, over half the victims capsized their boats and/or fell overboard.

Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land. The marine environment  motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray accelerates a drinker’s impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.

The Coast Guard and every state have stringent penalties for violating BUI laws. Penalties can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms. The Coast Guard and the states cooperate fully in enforcement in order to remove impaired boat operators from the waters.

In waters that are overseen solely by the states, the states have the authority to enforce their own BUI statutes. In state waters that are also subject to U.S. jurisdiction, there is concurrent jurisdiction. That means if a boater is apprehended under Federal law in these waters, the Coast Guard will (unless precluded by state law) request that state law enforcement officers take the intoxicated boater into custody.

When the Coast Guard determines that an operator is impaired, the voyage may be terminated. The vessel will be brought to mooring by the Coast Guard or a competent and un-intoxicated person on board the recreational vessel. Depending on the circumstances, the Coast Guard may arrest the operator, detain the operator until sober, or turn the operator over to state or local authorities. Many recreational boaters forget that a boat is a vehicle, and that safe operation is a legal and personal responsibility. Just dont do it.

HAVE THE PROPER EQUIPMENT  If you’re not sure ask for a USCG safety check. Both the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons have certified vessel examiners who will perform a free Vessel Safety Check (“VSC”) at your boat, at a time of mutual convenience. There is no charge, and no consequences if you don’t pass. thier goal is simply to help make boating as safe as possible for you, your family and your friends, through education. If you get underway and do not have the proper safety gear you could be fined. To find the required equipment your vessel is required to have click here.

HAVE FUN…but be smart..

For more indepth information on National Boating Safety Month Petty officer Brauch suggest that you visit the safe boating council by clicking here . 

Have a fun and safe boating season!


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