Coast Guard and Alaska State Troopers enforce boating safety on Big Lake near Wasilla, Alaska

Coast Guard Alaska News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Coast Guard Sector Anchorage personnel and the Alaska State Troopers joined efforts to promote boating safety on Big Lake, near Wasilla, during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

A Coast Guard Sector Anchorage boarding team joined the Alaska State Troopers on one of the most popular recreational boating lakes in the area to verify boaters had proper safety gear aboard their vessels and that operators were not boating under the influence of alcohol.

The Coast Guard and State Troopers conducted random safety compliance checks to ensure boaters out enjoying the water were doing it safely. The boarding team ensured all children were wearing lifejackets and boaters had their licenses and registrations. They also checked to make sure vessels were equipped with the appropriate number of flotation devices, a sound-producing device and an approved fire extinguisher.

“The most common discrepancies we found were boaters who didn’t keep their boat registration with them and didn’t have a Type IV throwable flotation device,” said Lt. j.g. Laura Gadziala, a Coast Guard boarding officer with Sector Anchorage, “It’s a federal and state requirement to have a life jacket aboard for every adult as well as a Type IV throwable. A lot of people don’t know about the Type IV. This past weekend was about education as much as ensuring safety.”

It’s also a federal and state requirement that all children under the age of 13 wear their life jackets at all times while on the water—even if the boat is not underway or if it is tied up at the dock.

“The Coast Guard has partnered with the State Troopers to conduct boardings out at Big Lake for more than four years and, in that time, we’ve seen a huge increase in compliance,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Pete Harwell, another Coast Guard boarding officer on scene at the lake. “It’s great to know these increases mean more people are safe when they’re out having fun — and that’s our primary goal.”

“There are different requirements for different bodies of water. What we look for on a lake is different than what is required on the open ocean,” said Harwell. “We advise all boaters to check out the carriage requirements before getting underway.”

If boaters have any questions about the safety requirements the Coast Guard looks for, they are encouraged to go to before getting underway. –

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