Coast Guard encourages boaters to check vessels during winter

JUNEAU – The Coast Guard encourages owners and operators who have vessels moored to piers throughout Southeast Alaska to conduct preventative maintenance prior to winter weather conditions.

During the last three winters Coast Guard personnel responded to more than 50 pollution cases in Juneau, 12 of which were vessels that sank due to snow-overload or icing.

Problems occur when snow accumulates on a vessel directly effecting its stability. Ice can also accumulate inside overboard discharges and on weather decks contributing to flooding and instability.

Completing simple preventative maintenance can prevent pollution from occurring and damaging Alaska’s important natural resources. Pollution caused by boats sinking could potentially result in a fine in addition to salvage costs.

“Every winter we see several cases of boats sinking or tanks failing from icing or snow-overload,” said Capt. Melissa Bert, commander of Coast Guard Sector Juneau. “These cases substantially impact vessel owners and directly impact the waters of our local area. We encourage mariners to be proactive and routinely check their vessel especially after a heavy winter storm to prevent an inadvertent sinking.”

To prevent sinking of a vessel the Coast Guard recommends:

  • Removal of snow and ice accumulation including keeping scuppers clear of blockage
  • Checking the shaft packing for excess leakage.
  • Performing routine checks for signs of loose or deteriorating planks on wooden hulled vessels.
  • Conducting a routine inspection of your automatic bilge pump.
  • Visually inspecting all thru-hull fittings for damage or loose connections.
  • Removing all unnecessary fuel from your boat if you are planning to be away for an extended period of time.

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