Coast Guard urges mariners to exercise caution as storm system moves along Northern California Coast

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The National Weather Service has issued a Special Weather Statement for the Mendocino and Redwood Coast through the weekend.

“A strong storm currently moving across the Gulf of Alaska will generate a large northwest swell that will spread into Northern California waters Saturday. Breaking waves of 18 to 20 feet will be possible along west and northwest facing beaches Saturday afternoon into Sunday. Seas will reach their maximum heights Sunday morning before subsiding into early next week,” warns the National Weather Service.

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.

Though the large waves can be an extreme sight to some, the Coast Guard, along with its partner state and local agencies, urge people to not go near these areas if at all possible. The risk to life is too great during conditions such as these.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends boaters avoid taking to the water over the next several days.

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.

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.

As the storm season for Northern California begins, the Coast Guard also encourages all boaters to check the status of mooring and anchor lines, and replace worn lines if necessary. During strong winds and heavy seas, vessels can come loose from the pier or anchor due to worn lines, or not having enough lines attached to the pier or having a heavy enough anchor.

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

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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