Coast Guard urges Boaters to exercise extra caution during fall and winter months

1st Coast Guard District News
NEW YORK — The Coast Guard encourages owners and operators of vessels to take extra caution as boating conditions worsen during the fall and winter months.

The Coast Guard recommends boaters check their local marine weather frequently. Be aware that storms can come up quickly and without warning.

Most recently, rescue boat crewmembers from Coast Guard Stations New Haven and Fire Island, N.Y., saved four lives from boaters in distress. Fortunately they were wearing their lifejackets.

Station New Haven’s boatcrew rescued a stranded boater operating a pedal driven 12-foot pontoon craft, often referred to as a water bike, inside New Haven harbor when the pedal mechanism on the bike broke, disabling the propulsion for the craft, Sunday.  After drifting onto the east end of the New Haven break wall, the boater was able to contact her husband with her cell phone and request help. Her husband contacted Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound and reported the situation.

Upon notification, a 45-foot rescue boat from Station New Haven was launched and was on scene with the stranded boater within minutes and removed her from the rocks and returned her safely to shore.

“Given the strong winds, choppy sea condition, and cold air temperature, the stranded boater was very fortunate to have drifted onto the rocks before being swept out into the sound,” said Mark Averill, the Command Duty Officer for Sector Long Island Sound who managed the case.  “Having a personal flotation device on, along with carrying her cellular phone with her, made all of the difference in getting her home safely.”

Station Fire Island’s boatcrew rescued three people and saved their 24-foot vessel that was taking on water south of Fire Island Inlet, today. When Station Fire Island’s boatcrew arrived there was nearly a foot of water in the vessel coming from an unknown location in the boat. The boatcrew quickly assessed the situation and towed the vessel to safety.

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. In the event of an emergency, contact the Coast Guard on Ch-16. 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.

“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.”

Important boating safety links and information:

Coast Guard Storm Center – http://www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/

NOAA’s National Weather Service Marine Forecast – http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm

A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats and Safety Tips – http://www.uscgboating.org/regulations/federal_requirements_brochure.aspx

What to know about filing a Float Plan – http://www.uscgboating.org/safety/float_planning.aspx

 

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