National Safe Boating Week

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By R. L. “Doc” Gardner

The 2017 National Safe Boating Week runs from May 20th to May 26th.   During this week an emphasis is placed on boating safety with a specific focus on the wearing of life jackets.   Flotilla 15-2 of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, based out of Yankeetown, FL, got off to an early start in Cedar Key by painting Life Jacket Zone emblems on the entrance to all marina launches by Dock Street on May 15th.

Flotilla 15-2 Commander John P Caddigan and Flotilla Staff Officer (FSO) Joe Catalano were at the marina launches on Saturday morning May 20th to kick off National Safe Boating Week by providing free safety inspections for vessels and distributing boating safety information from a kiosk set up on the marina boardwalk.   By noon they had already performed 25 vessel safety inspections.

The safety inspections are a voluntary check of boats for required safety equipment and overall vessel condition.  It also provides an opportunity for Coast Guard Auxiliarymembers to interact with boat owners, answer questions, and provide further information to the boating public.   Passing vessels are awarded a Safety Decal to be proudly displayed and which can earn the owner a reduction in their insurance costs by participating insurance companies.    Boats that do not pass are not issued a citation but instead are provided a written report on how to correct any noted issues.

The types of items covered by a vessel safety inspection include life jackets, registration and numbering, navigation lights, ventilation, fire extinguishers, distress signals (flares, horn, etc.), and battery cover and connections.  All of these items are currently required by state and federal laws and if missing or non-operational can result in a citation if the Coast Guard inspects your vessel.

In addition to the advantage of potentially lower insurance rates, a safety inspection gives you thepeace of mind that your boat meets federal safety standards and that in an emergency you will have the necessary equipment to save lives and summon help.  To arrange for a voluntary vessel safety check, you may contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary through their web site at:  http://cgaux.org/