Coast Guard urges mariners to exercise caution during hazardous sea conditions

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory for the Central and Northern California Coasts, including the San Francisco Bay from 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. Friday. In addition, a Hazardous Seas Advisory has been issued for coastal waters north of Pigeon Point from today through Saturday.

A small craft advisory means that high winds are expected to produce hazardous wave conditions to small craft. Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels should exercise extreme caution when navigating in these conditions.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends boaters avoid taking to the water over the next several days, and avoid beaches as hazardous sea conditions may exist.

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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