Coast Guard stresses safety after several boaters cited for lack of life jackets

CLEVELAND – The Ninth Coast Guard District is urging boaters to take the proper safety precautions after Coast Guard boarding teams escorted seven boaters back to marinas this weekend, having determined they did not have the sufficient number of life jackets onboard.

To meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a Coast Guard-approved type I, II, III, or V (wearable) life jacket for each person aboard. Boats longer than 15 feet must have at least one Type IV (throwable) device as well.

Both Saturday and Sunday, Coast guard boarding teams terminated the voyage of vessels on Lakes Huron, Michigan and Erie. The boarding teams involved were assigned to smallboat stations in: Grand Haven, St. Ignace, Belle Isle and Essexville, Mich.; Milwaukee; and Cleveland.

“Boaters need to be responsible for the safety of themselves, their passengers and other boaters,” said Frank Jennings, Jr., recreational boating safety program manager for the Ninth Coast Guard District. “That means not only having the proper number of life jackets onboard, but wearing them whenever underway. It is much more difficult to find and don a life jacket during an emergency. Boaters need to be prepared ahead of time.”

Owners/operators of vessels found to be in violation of 33 CFR 175, the portion of the Code of Federal Regulations that pertains to recreational boating safety, may be assessed a civil penalty up to $8,000 per violation.

Recreational boating safety laws may differ from state to state. The National Association of State Boating law Administrators offers a reference guide to promote greater uniformity in state boating laws and to facilitate the enforcement and administration of such laws. That guide can be found online here.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer free Vessel Safety Checks – courtesy examinations of boats that verify the presence and condition of safety equipment required by state and federal laws. These are not law enforcement boardings or inspections; there are no citations given or tickets issued as a result of these examinations. Each vessel examiner is a trained specialist that will make recommendations and discuss issues that will make boaters safer BEFORE they venture out on the water.

Visit the Vessel Safety Check website and click on “I Want a VSC” to find an examiner near you.

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