Coast Guard emphasizes safety as Irene approaches New England

1st Coast Guard District News

BOSTON — The Coast Guard is advising that heavy rainfall, winds, and surf caused by Hurricane Irene will affect the New England area.

The Coast Guard Recreational Boating Safety office based in Boston reminds boaters they should carefully monitor the hurricane’s progress and heed all associated warnings.

Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Irene through local television, radio, and Internet. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts and current storm advisories regularly (www.nws.noaa.gov). Boaters can monitor storm progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

Secure your vessel. Owners are urged to move their vessel to a protected mooring or haul-out location. Mariners are reminded that drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. Drawbridges are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale-force winds of 34 knots or greater, and whenever an evacuation is ordered. If owners decide to keep vessels in the water they should double-check their heavy-weather moorings.

Never stay with your boat. Boats should be stripped of anything that can become loose during the storm, e.g., life jackets, life rings and canopies. This also includes unstepping the mast in sailboats. Since it is impossible to determine how long it will take to return to a vessel once the storm passes, boat documents, radios, and other valuables should be removed prior to the storm.

Be cautious of hazardous materials. Owners of boats with hazardous materials aboard are responsible for any spills that may occur.  Take the necessary precautions to secure them prior to any heavy weather.

Moving your vessel – “The Coast Guard wants boaters to be particularly careful if they decide to move their vessel to protective moorings prior to the storm,” said Walt Taylor, the First Coast Guard District’s Recreational Boating Safety Specialist. “There are basic safety precautions that we urge boaters and paddlers to consistently follow regardless of the date or situation.”

For example, boaters and paddlers should:

  • Always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket.
  • Have a VHF radio since cell phone services are unreliable offshore.
  • Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Be aware of weather and water conditions.
  • File a float plan to let others know where you are going.  An example of a float plan can be found at www.floatplancentral.org.
  • Be cautious – do not exceed your ability to handle your vessel, and be constantly aware of other vessels.
  • Observe safety and security zones while on the water.

For additional boating safety tips and the recently released Recreational Boating Statistics 2010, boaters can access the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Web site at www.uscgboating.org.

 

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