Coast Guard urges mariners to exercise caution due to foul weather

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory and Gale Watch for the Central and Northern California Coasts, including the San Francisco Bay through Wednesday afternoon.

Wind speeds have been forecasted to be between 24 and 38 miles per hour, and wave heights are predicted to be 6 to 11 feet through today, increasing through Tuesday night and Wednesday.

The Coast Guard and other agencies have responded to several cases from Humboldt to Monterey Counties over the past several days, and urge mariners, especially those with small vessels or limited experience, to exercise extreme caution over the next several days. If it is at all possible, it is recommended to avoid taking to the water at all.

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.

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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