NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Coast Guard units in Long Island Sound and along the South Shore of Long Island are urging boaters to abide by fall boating safety guidelines following an extremely active summer season.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound units responded to a total of 188 cases to include 24 persons in the water, 29 vessels taking on water, and six medical evacuations. In total, the Coast Guard in Long Island Sound saved 37 people and assisted an additional 272 people. Sadly, eight lives were lost this summer.
In one of the more dramatic summer rescues, Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound personnel coordinated the rescue of a fisherman who had been lost at sea for more than twelve hours. John Aldridge, a crewmember aboard the commercial fishing vessel Anna Mary fell overboard July 24, launching massive search and rescue actions by the Coast Guard.
Two rescue boat crews from Coast Guard Station Montauk, two Coast Guard 87-foot rescue Coastal Patrol Boats, an HC-144 aircraft and two rescue MH-60T helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, along with several Good Samaritans and local fishing vessels searched more than eight hours to find John Aldridge. The coordination between the vessels and the Coast Guard allowed them to cover an area of 660 square miles, approximately the size of 378,000 American football fields.
“As we transition into the fall boating season, so does the emphasis of cold weather boating safety guidelines,” said Capt. Ed Cubanski, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “It is essential for boaters to take extra precautions in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing in the fall.”
Fall Boating Safety guidelines:
When the weather changes so should the type of lifejackets boaters use such as a flotation coat or deck suit-style designed to keep the boater afloat and insulated without using energy. If a person were to fall overboard in cold water, hypothermia sets in and their chances of survival decrease drastically.
In addition to wearing the proper lifejacket for cold weather boating, bringing extra layers of clothing and weather appropriate outerwear is crucial. With temperatures averaging in the 50’s throughout October and November, it is imperative to be prepared for sudden drops in temperature or approaching storms.
Along with lifejacket safety, boaters are urged to conduct a safety check of their vessel ensuring it is outfitted with the proper safety gear and is in good operating condition before getting underway. The following is a list of safety tips all boaters should adhere to before leaving the dock:
- Carry a VHF-FM marine radio. Cell phones often lose signal and run out of batteries after a day on the water. They are helpful, but not reliable for emergencies.
- Register your EPIRB. Response time is the key to survival. The sooner help arrives, the better the chances for survival. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS) provide the fastest and most accurate way the Coast Guard has of locating and rescuing persons in distress.
- Have a Vessel Safety Check. It’s a great way of learning about problems that might put boaters in violation of state or federal laws, or create danger for boaters and passengers on the water. Best of all, it’s free!
Lastly, boaters are urged to let friends and family know where and their expected return time. These planned actions ahead of starting the motor, hoisting the sail, or paddling the vessel are critical to ensuring a safe boating excursion or rescue if the need arises.