Seattle-area Coast Guardsmen stress safety at start of boating season

Pacific Northwest Coast Guard News
By Petty Officers 2nd Class George Degener and Zac Crawford

SEATTLE — As the weather changes and the Pacific Northwest transitions into the warmer months of spring and summer, more than half a million recreational boaters will get ready to use the region’s waters. Coast Guardsmen from Bellingham, Wash., to Brookings, Ore., and across the country also prepare for the traditional start of boating season by stressing boating safety.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Backman and Petty Officer 2nd Class Ahmed Sanura, both machinery technicians with U.S. Coast Guard Station Seattle, board a vessel to perform a safety inspection near Seattle May 26, 2013. Backman and Sanura, along with the other members of Station Seattle, increased their presence on the waterways over Memorial Day weekend to conduct safety checks to ensure the public was boating safely as well as to make sure local boaters had all required safety equipment. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Zac Crawford  Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/image/941063/coast-guard-station-seattle-conducts-safety-checks#.UaaD1NCYZsc#ixzz2Uiy10tP2

Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Backman and Petty Officer 2nd Class Ahmed Sanura, both machinery technicians with U.S. Coast Guard Station Seattle, board a vessel to perform a safety inspection near Seattle May 26, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Pety Oficer 2nd CLass Zac Crawford.

“It’s in the best interest of every mariner to ensure that they have the required safety equipment on their vessel,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Kirker, a maritime enforcement specialist and boarding officer with the Coast Guard’s Seattle-based Vessel Boarding and Search Team. “Each of those safety items is designed with intent to save lives.”

May 5, 2013, saw 80-degree air temperatures and men, women and children trailering small recreational boats, heading for boat ramps across Washington State and Oregon. Waiting for them at the Gene Coulon Park boat ramp in Renton, Wash., were Kirker and other VBST boarding officers: Petty Officer 2nd Class Stefon Kleinert and Petty Officer 3rd Class Marc Henderson. Holding stacks of Coast Guard boarding forms and with ready eyes, these three men performed recreational boating safety exams as soon as, if not before, boats entered the water.

“Doing an RBS boarding dockside greatly benefits both boaters and the Coast Guard,” said Kirker. “Boaters receive a vessel inspection and verification of gear before they get underway, meaning that a lack of any required gear can be identified before not having it could put their lives at risk.”

The Coast Guard recommends that all mariners inspect their boat for any mechanical defects and verify that all the required safety equipment is present, in good working order and that boat operators know how to properly operate their safety gear.

“Things change over time,” said Kirker. “It’s not worth putting the lives of your friends and family at risk by assuming that your boat and gear are in the same condition you last left it.”

Some of the common safety equipment required by the Coast Guard during these inspections include: one life jacket for everyone onboard, a sound-producing device such as a whistle or horn, a throwable Type-4 flotation device such as a life ring and a fire extinguisher that is charged and in good working order.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Stefon Kleinert, Petty Officer 3rd Class Marc Henderson and Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Kirker, maritime enforcement specialists assigned to Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound Vessel Boarding and Search Team in Seattle, conduct dockside recreational boating safety inspections at Gene Coulon Park in Renton, Wash., May 5, 2013.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Stefon Kleinert, Petty Officer 3rd Class Marc Henderson and Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Kirker, maritime enforcement specialists assigned to Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound Vessel Boarding and Search Team in Seattle, conduct dockside recreational boating safety inspections at Gene Coulon Park in Renton, Wash., May 5, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class George Degener.

Some of the common safety equipment required by the Coast Guard during these inspections include: one life jacket for everyone onboard, a sound-producing device such as a whistle or horn, a throwable Type-4 flotation device such as a life ring and a fire extinguisher that is charged and in good working order.inspections include: one life jacket for everyone onboard, a sound-producing device such as a whistle or horn, a throwable Type-4 flotation device such as a life ring and a fire extinguisher that is charged and in good working order.

“We do these types of things to educate the public and promote boating safety,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Backman, a machinery technician and boarding officer at Coast Guard Station Seattle. “We accomplish that goal by inspecting their safety equipment and making sure they are following all federal regulations when it comes to recreational boating.”

One of the other continuing goals the Coast Guard has been successful with is that of educating novice boaters.

“All boaters, both seasoned and new, need to be made aware of these safety concerns,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ahmed Sanura, a machinery technician and boarding officer at Coast Guard Station Seattle. “If they have all of their safety equipment, new and seasoned boaters alike, will be in a better position to handle any emergency situation they may run into on the water.”

Click here for more photos of Seattle-area Coast Guardsmen conducting recreational boating safety examinations.

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