Disabled vessels keep Coast Guard, partner agencies busy over holiday weekend

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Coast Guard crews along with federal, state and local partner agencies responded to numerous disabled vessels during Memorial Day weekend.

“In several cases, communications would have been optimal had boaters used a VHF-FM marine radio, said Richard Hutchinson, a search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “A radio is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and the inevitable dead battery.”

The Coast Guard would like to remind boaters of a few tips to keep safe on the water.

  • Making sure all equipment is in good working order prior to leaving the dock ensures a safe trip. Being educated about safe boating could save a life. Most boating fatalities occur on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety education course. Courses cover many aspects of boating safety, from boat handling to reading the weather.
  • The Coast Guard urges boaters to obtain a free vessel safety check, which can be conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Vessel safety checks are courtesy examinations of your vessel.
  • Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are aboard your vessel. It also gives a vessel description, your destination and what time you expect to arrive. If you are delayed for some reason, make sure you let someone know.
  • Make certain to check the local weather prior to departing the dock. Weather can change very rapidly and boaters should keep a watchful eye on the forecasted conditions. With hurricane season approaching, boaters are reminded to monitor winds, currents and tides throughout their trip.
  • Have nautical charts of the area were you are boating.
  • Wear your life jacket. More than 90 percent of boaters who drown were not wearing their life jackets. In an emergency there might not be enough time to put one on, so wearing one at all times may save your life.

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