Coast Guard urges caution with strong storms forecasted

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Coast Guard along with the California Department of Boating and Waterway is urging water enthusiasts and vessel owners to take appropriate safety precautions due to incoming storm systems.

Beginning today and spanning through Saturday, the California coast will experience significant rainfall accompanied with high winds and surf. Tuesday through Wednesday, a west to northwest swell will develop with seas reaching 25-feet. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind watch for Monday. Southeast winds are expected to pickup Monday, increasing to 20 to 45 miles per hour.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to check the status of mooring and anchor lines, and replace worn lines if necessary. Vessel owners should also double-up existing mooring lines. During strong winds and heavy seas, vessels can come loose from the pier or anchor due to worn lines.

Vessels adrift can become hazardous to nearby vessels as they are tossed about and can become hazards to navigation. These vessels can also pose environmental risk as any fluids or chemicals onboard can spill or leak should the vessel break apart.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that people avoid going near beaches or other low-lying coastal areas, especially jetties and rocky areas, over the next several days. Large waves can quickly, and unexpectedly sweep a person from these areas. Even the strongest swimmers can quickly be overtaken by the power of the sea, especially when the cold-water temperatures are factored in.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends boaters avoid taking to the water over the next few days, until the seas subside.

If it necessary to get underway, mariners are urged to check that all of their safety equipment is in good condition.

There should be a personal flotation device onboard for each person, sized accordingly. If boaters will be traveling offshore, it is strongly recommended that there be an immersion suit or other full-body protection, as water temperatures will be cold, and hypothermia can quickly overtake the average person.

All boaters should also ensure that they have a working marine VHF radio on board to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 should an emergency arise. The Coast Guard reminds all mariners that channel 16 is an emergency frequency, and should be used for such. Misuse of channel 16 or broadcasting false distress calls can result in prison time, severe fines, and you could be liable for any costs incurred as a result of search efforts.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading. It is also recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if your plan should change.

Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.

For more information on boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit www.uscgboating.org.

For more information on weather conditions, please visit www.weather.gov.

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