Coast Guard Sector Juneau reminds boaters to prepare for trips in Southeast Alaska

Coast Guard Alaska News
JUNEAU, Alaska — Coast Guard Sector Juneau emphasizes the importance of being prepared to safely enjoy the waters of Southeast Alaska during this spring boating season to enhance boater safety and prevent boating accidents.

Harbors all around Southeast are abuzz with both recreational and commercial boaters setting their boats in the water and getting them cleaned up for summer fishing expeditions and sightseeing. With more people on the water the importance of being a safe boater increases. Unlike many other places in the United States our boating public shares many of the same waterways they travel with large cruise ships, ferries, cargo vessels and float planes daily.

Here are some safety tips to ensure you and your vessel are ready for  the waters of Southeast Alaska:

  • Check the weather. Be sure to look at the immediate weather forecast as well as the extended forecast; weather can change in Alaska in a matter of hours. Be prepared for it. The National Weather Service offers local and statewide current and extended marine weather forecasts on their website and can be tuned into on VHF marine band radios.
  • Take multiple forms of communication devices and extra batteries or a charger. Always remember VHF-FM radio is the primary communications network for the maritime boating community. Also, consider a personal emergency beacon and, if you have one, ensure it is registered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Dress for the water temperature!
  • Be sure to have Coast Guard approved lifejackets aboard your vessel and wear them. All boaters and paddlers are encouraged to wear their life jackets while underway. Alaska state law requires children 13 years of age and younger to wear a life jacket while out on the water.
  • Check all required safety equipment to be sure it is in good working order. The Coast Guard Auxiliary provides free vessel safety exams. Contact your nearest flotilla for more information or visit the Alaska-based Coast Guard Auxiliary’s website.
  • File a float plan before you get underway detailing your trip to aid rescuers in the event you are overdue. Sample float plans can be found on the Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety website.

The Coast Guard also reminds boaters  of the importance of not firing false flares.  Several flares have been fired from undetermined  sources this season. The Coast Guard has used valuable assets and manpower searching for false flares and we request that you refrain from firing flares for no reason. If you wish to practice firing a flare you can call Sector Juneau at (907) 463-2980 to set up a time and place you wish to practice.

“The beautiful weather in and around Juneau can create a false sense of security,” said Cmdr. Marc Burd, chief of response, Coast Guard Sector Juneau. “The sky might be blue and the water calm, but that can all change in an instant as unforeseen hazards are around every corner in the waters of Alaska. Plan ahead, be aware of your surroundings, file a Float Plan, and Stick to it.” 

For more information on safe recreational boating please visit the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Resource Center or contact Lt. Ryan Erickson, chief of incident management, Coast Guard Sector Juneau at 907-463-2835.

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