Coast Guard reminds boaters of snow load risk

Coast Guard District 17 NewsVALDEZ, Alaska — The Coast Guard reminds small boat harbor users to remove excess snow from moored vessels to prevent sinking and pollution this winter.

Every year Valdez gets hit hard with snow fall. In years past, at least one boat per winter has sunk in the Valdez Small Boat Harbor due to inattention to the weight of the snow load or lack of proper maintenance.

“Each day, during the winter months, the Coast Guard conducts harbor patrols to identify boats at risk for reduced stability and sinking,” said Cmdr. Benjamin Hawkins, commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Valdez. “Last year, the Coast Guard worked with the Valdez Harbormaster to take immediate action to remove snow from dozens of vessels at imminent risk of sinking. If costs were associated with that action, those expenses were the vessel owner’s responsibility.”

In 2009, two boats sank at their berths due to inadequate snow removal. The average cost to address the resulting pollution and to refloat those vessels ranged from $10,000 to $30,000 dollars. In addition, owners faced fines from the Coast Guard of up to $40,000 per day.

The Coast Guard recommends, if you have a boat in the harbor and are unable to visit it regularly or live out of town, that you designate a caretaker for your vessel to clear snow on your behalf.

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