Coast Guard starts new boating safety operation

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard is scheduled to begin an effort to improve boating safety in the 5th District beginning Sunday, to increase awareness of the dangers associated with bow riding and negligent operation, and ending in September.

Operation Bow Rider will be a period for Coast Guard members to educate the community about the dangers of bow riding.

Bow riding refers to the unsafe practice of passengers remaining on the bow of a recreational vessel while it is making way.

There are more than 1.6 million registered boats within the Coast Guard’s 5th District, which spans from North Carolina to mid New Jersey. The boating public is often unaware of the potential hazards that exist when operating recreational boats, and in particular, allowing passengers to ride on the bow of an underway vessel.This is inherently unsafe when the bow is not outfitted with the appropriate safety equipment for seating passengers, such as non-skid, railings or seats. Even while wearing a life jacket, a person who is sitting on the bow can be at risk of a propeller strike. This extremely dangerous practice can cause possible injury or even death.

In 2008, there were 65 boating fatalities recorded in the 5th District with 20 percent of the fatalities being directly linked to bow riding. These statistics do not include the injuries incurred while bow riding.

“You wouldn’t allow your kids to sit of the hood of your car, so why would you allow them to sit on the bow of your boat?” said Rear Adm. Dean Lee, 5th District commander.

The Coast Guard is urging the boating public to think twice before allowing their friends and family members to carelessly bow ride.

To coincide with the start of the operation, the Coast Guard has released a public service announcement highlighting the dangers of unsafe boating practices. Here is the 60 second version.

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