Coast Guard urges mariners to prepare for heavy surf conditions in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The U.S. Coast Guard is urging mariners to expect and prepare for dangerous surf conditions predicted by the National Weather Service, with large swells and breaking waves of 12 feet or larger expected Friday through Sunday, along the north coast of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan continue to monitor the weather due to the passing of Hurricane Igor north of the islands.

“Swimmers and boaters should take this weather system seriously and avoid the ocean until surf conditions normalize,” said Capt. Eduardo Pino, Sector San Juan commander and Captain of the Port. “We continue to monitor the large breakers and wind at the entrance of San Juan Harbor to ensure the people and vessels coming in and out of the port remain safe.”

Vessels and facility operators, recreational boaters and people conducting activities in the ocean, should pay close attention and monitor this situation through updated National Weather Service advisories and take appropriate action to minimize the risks associated with these predicted conditions.

Boating and Water Safety Tips:

  • Check the weather before casting off and monitor the weather by radio continuously.
  • It is recommended that everyone always wear a life jacket when in the water, but at a minimum have a properly fitting life jacket for every person on board and ensure that they are quickly accessible.  Often, when trouble happens, it happens fast.
  • Know the boat you are on, including the location and operation of all safety gear, including a VHF-marine radio.  This is especially true if renting or borrowing a boat that you may not be familiar with.
  • Do not rely on cell phones as a primary means of distress communication.  Coverage is unreliable and communications are only point-to-point, limiting the chances of a Good Samaritan coming to your aid and if you get cut-off the call may not be reestablished.  Radio is your best bet to communicate trouble and get help to you quickly.
  • A float plan should be prepared and shared with friends and family. That will give them an idea of where you are going and when you will return home. The float plan has all pertinent information about your boat, increasing your chances of being rescued. You can download a float plan at:  http://www.floatplancentral.org/ and http://www.floatplancentral.org/download/USCGFloatPlan.pdf.
  • You can also contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary for a free vessel safety check log on to www.vesselsafetycheck.org and click on “I Want a VSC” to find a Vessel Examiner near you.
  • Taking a safe boating class arms you with valuable information. For a boating safety class with the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Puerto Rico you may call 787-383-9717.

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