Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Boating Season Out Like a Lion

Labor Day Weekend was busy for boaters and for the Coast Guard...

A Coast Guard crewmember keeps watch during a patrol in Clearwater, FL, on Labor Day
weekend 2011. U.S.C.G. photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike De Nyse.

For many folks around the US, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and the end of boating season. Therefore, Labor Day Weekend is often a chance for one last hurrah on the water before packing up the boat until spring. Everybody has the same idea, and the most popular boating spots are usually even more crowded than usual. And with funky weather across much of the US, wind and waves have been popping up out of nowhere. That's why it is not surprising there were so many boating incidents and accidents this past weekend. We're going to share a few of them in hopes that they help other boaters remember some of the basics of boating safety next time they head out...

Boat fire in NC
On Sunday, two boaters in the Pungo River in North Carolina had to be rescued from a 65-foot yacht named Echelon. Apparently the yacht had a fire starting in her engine room. A Coast Guard helicopter lowered a rescue swimmer to assist the boaters to another boat in the area that had come to assist. At 65', you'd think the crippled yacht would have had some sort of a dinghy or tender onboard (instead of requiring the full resources of the USCG), but perhaps the boaters were unable to reach it or too panicked at the time. This goes to show you need to be prepared for anything - even while close to shore.

Like a scene from The Perfect Storm
A couple and their puppy were rescued by the Coast Guard on Friday after their 58-foot sailboat (the yacht's name is Gypsy Soul) began sinking in 30-foot seas and 45-knot winds, 130 miles off the coast of Cape Mendocino in Northern California. Yes, we said THIRTY. If you think it sounds bad, wait until you see the video...

Multiple fires to put out in Texas
In addition to the wildfires devastating the mainland, Coast Guard crews in Texas had their own fires to put out with all the boaters making the most of the long weekend. The Coast Guard responded to 11 cases and assisted 16 people from Friday to Monday in Texas during this Labor Day Weekend. Among the strangest and most disturbing of the reported incidents started with a phone call the Station South Padre Island Police Department received at approximately 1 a.m. Sunday morning... the call came from a child (age not given) who stated his father had fallen overboard. According to the Coast Guard, the boy was able to get his father back aboard, who was unconscious, though the call ended before providing a position. Several boats and helicopters searched for the father and son, using information provided from the cell phone company the boy made the call from.  At approximately 9:45 a.m. a second phone call was received reporting that man was safe on shore and did not request Coast Guard assistance.

Summing it up
After the long weekend, Texas area Coast Guard had this to say, and we couldn't have said it better:
“We would like to remind boaters to maintain vigilance and use safe boating practices,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tony Colburn, situational unit watchstander. “This includes wearing life vests and using a VHF marine band radio.”

Speaking of end of summer
Don't forget, the Boat Cover contest we told you about last week ends this Thursday. Enter today before it's too late!


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