Coast Guard encourages safe boating practices during San Francisco Fleet Week

SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard reminds boaters in the Bay Area to be safe while out on the water during San Francisco Fleet Week events.

Fleet Week recognizes and honors military members and tends to be a busy weekend for boaters.

Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 60s while water temperatures are expected to in the low 60s.

“We want people to get out and enjoy the various fleet week events, but do so safely,” said Capt. Marie Byrd, the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco commander. “Cold water is a persistent danger throughout the Bay Area. Mariners need to dress for the water temperature and make sure they have reliable means to communicate a distress to rescuers while out on the water.”

San Francisco Bay Area crews are urging all boaters to remember key boating safety tips:

  • Always wear a life jacket. There is usually very little time to reach for stowed vests when accidents occur. Wearing one at all times reduces the risk of drowning. Federal law requires mariners to have a personal flotation device aboard for each passenger.
  • Have sufficient means of communication including a VHF radio. VHF channel 16 is the international hailing and distress frequency and can be used to reach the Coast Guard during emergencies.
  • Large commercial and military ships have the right-of-way over smaller and more maneuverable boats on the water. It is illegal according to Rule 9 of the Inland and International Rules of the Road for boats less than 65 feet in length to impede the passage of these ships or to cross in front of these ships that impede their passage.
  • Be on the lookout for illegal charters. If the vessel is carrying six or more passengers it must have a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection. Passengers can ask the captain of the vessel to verify their license and the inspection status of the boat.
  • Do not carry more passengers than a boat is designed for. Check the boat’s maximum capacity plate (if equipped). Do not carry more passengers or more weight than the boat is designed for. Overloading can cause the boat to ride lower in the water, reduce the vessel’s stability and greatly increase the chance of capsizing. Additionally, too much weight on one side of the boat can cause the vessel to list and increase the chances of capsizing.
  • Never boat under the influence. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. There are stringent penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws, which can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.
  • Never turn your back on the water. There are strong rip currents along the Pacific coast, and sneaker waves are common.
  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Even if boaters don’t plan to enter the water, they should be prepared for an emergency. Paddleboarders, kayakers and wind surfers who are likely to go in the water should wear a wet suit to decrease their risk of hypothermia and a life jacket to prevent them from drowning before rescuers can get on scene.
  • File a float plan. A float plan is simply letting family and friends know where you are going and your expected time of return. File a float plan with someone who is not getting underway with you and stick to the plan. A float plan assists responders in the search of an overdue boater who may be in distress. Float plans can be filed through the Coast Guard’s safety app using the below QR codes.

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