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Recent Updates for U.S. Coast Guard Digital Newsroom

Great Lakes Coast Guard recommends free vessel safety checks for boaters  Follow link

May 25, 2016 1:00 pm

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel safety check decal

CLEVELAND — As National Safe Boating Week continues, the Coast Guard 9th District is reminding boaters Wednesday to get a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary before going out onto the Great Lakes this Memorial Day weekend.

USCG Auxiliary vessel safety check infographic

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is an all-volunteer force that augments the U.S. Coast Guard by promoting recreational boating safety through vessel safety checks and boating education courses.

"Being a safe boater goes beyond simply having the required safety equipment onboard your vessel to show federal, state, and local law enforcement that you are in compliance with boating safety laws," said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard 9th District in Cleveland. “By passing a vessel safety check and getting your annual decal, you provide your passengers and law enforcement with a visual cue that you are a safe boater.”

A Vessel Safety Check is a free safety inspection of a recreational boat conducted by a trained and certified U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadron Vessel Examiner.

The Coast Guard recommends that all recreational boaters, including personal watercraft users and paddlers, take advantage of these free offers. Boaters who have undergone a vessel safety check recently and earned a decal, will often find boardings of their vessels to be much faster.

No citations are issued for safety violations discovered during a vessel safety check.

“A boating safety course will teach you not only how to properly navigate on the lakes, but what to do in emergencies,” Baron said. “Whether engaged in fishing, water skiing, paddling a canoe or kayak, or simply just cruising the waterways, this fantastic freedom to escape the bounds of land and escape to the water comes with a responsibility to do so safely."

USCG phone app

According to the 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics, where instruction was known in the 626 deaths across the nation, 220 boat operators had not taken a safety class.

Boaters can go to to schedule vessel safety checks or to find available boating courses nearby.The Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, other qualified volunteer organizations and state agencies sponsor a variety of boating safety courses.

Vessel safety checks can also be requested through the new U.S. Coast Guard smartphone App, available to download on the Apple App and Google Play stores. Additionally, the Appincludes state boating information and a safety equipment checklist as part of the 10 most often requested tools and services requested by boaters.

Coast Guard advises Vessel Safety Check  Follow link

May 25, 2016 9:17 am

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard advises boaters to get a free Vessel Safety Check before embarking on a trip during National Safe Boating Week and boating season.

A courtesy VSC is performed at the location of your boat, whether in a slip, at the launch ramp or in your driveway – by a certified Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron Vessel Examiner, at a mutually-convenient time. The exam usually takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending upon the size of the boat.

Boats that pass the examination are awarded a distinctive VSC decal that alerts the Coast Guard, Harbor Patrol and other law-enforcement agencies that your boat was found to be in full compliance with all federal and state boating laws.

If a boater's vessel does not pass, no report is filed. Instead, owners are provided a written report that aids in correcting any discrepancies noted or specific information on required additional equipment.

For more information on VSC and how to schedule an examination, click here.

Dinner and a rescue  Follow link

May 25, 2016 6:58 am

Off-duty Coast Guardsman takes life-saving action in Beaufort, NC

Coast Guard rescues hikers from Na Pali Coast Trail, Kauai  Follow link

May 24, 2016 9:24 pm

HONOLULU – Two hikers are safe, Tuesday, after being stranded overnight on the Na Pali Coast Trail and writing "SOS” in the sand of Kalalau Beach, Kauai.

The hikers were hoisted to safety by an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point and transported to awaiting EMS at Lihue Airport. They are reported to be in stable condition.

The Dolphin crew was conducting training in the area when they overheard a radio conversation mention “SOS” written in the sand.

The crew diverted from their training mission and arrived on scene at 9:25 a.m. to see two people stranded on the beach waving their arms.

The rescue swimmer was lowered and discovered one of the hikers had an ankle injury preventing him from walking. Both hikers were then hoisted aboard the helicopter and transported to Lihue Airport.

The Coast Guard encourages the public to be prepared with essentials such as water, food, sunscreen and communication devices before embarking on any trip whether on land or water. In the event of an emergency, communication devices and emergency provisions can mean the difference between life and death.

No imagery is available for this case.

11th Annual Channel Islands Harbor Safe Boating Expo kicks off National Safe Boating Week  Follow link

May 24, 2016 5:07 pm

OXNARD, Calif., — The 11th Annual Channel Islands Harbor Safe Boating Expo was held Saturday, May 14th at Coast Guard Station Channel Islands Harbor. The event kicked off National Safe Boating Week which began May 21, 2016.

More than 900 spectators watched as rescue a Ventura County Air Rescue helicopter crew, a Coast Guard Station Channel Islands 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew, a Oxnard Rescue Water Craft, crews from Channel Islands Harbor Patrol and Ventura County, and also a Gold Coast Ambulance crew demonstrated boaters being rescued from a smoking sailing vessel.

“The search and rescue demonstration that occurred during the expo was nearly an exact replica of a case that ironically occurred this past Tuesday when the interagency search and rescue team responded to a boat on fire near Malibu,” said Lt. Thomas Wieland, commanding officer, Station Channel Islands Harbor. “That case was a perfect example of how the Safe Boating Expo showed the outstanding partnerships local agencies have but also how proper knowledge of ocean safety can save lives. The two people and their dog evacuated the vessel into the ocean just before it was fully engulfed in flames but did so after sending out a distress message and putting on lifejackets and anti-exposure coveralls. Even the dog, Rocket, had his own lifejacket. All these skills were taught at the expo."

Organizations at the expo helped improve the safety and readiness of the local community by assisting with safety gear and providing safety training. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad successfully disposed of more than 300 expired flares and the California Department of Waterways donated more than 200 lifejackets.

The hands-on training for the proper use of a fire extinguisher, flares, diving safety, kayaking, paddle boarding, and CPR was organized by members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and led by a wide range of subject matter experts.

“We are proud to work alongside the outstanding state and local agency partners to promote safety on the water, said Wieland. “The best way to stay safe at sea is preparing for it before you ever head out there. The Safe Boating Expo was an excellent way for anyone, regardless of experience, skill or knowledge, to improve their ability to stay safe while enjoying what the ocean has to offer.

Station Channel Islands Harbor responds to boat fire near Point Dume.

The commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Channel Islands Harbor speaks to the public about the importance of boating safety.

Several local, state and federal agencies participated in the Channel Islands Harbor Safe Boating Expo, demonstrationg proper safe boating techniques.

National Safe Boating Week continues, Coast Guard stresses importance of carrying life-saving emergency distress equipment  Follow link

May 24, 2016 1:49 pm

EPIRB: it takes the search out of search and rescue

Cell phones and water don't mix. In case of emergency, you want to have a EPIRB or PLB on board your boat. They take the "search" out of search and rescue.

U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin

CLEVELAND — As National Safe Boating Week continues, the Great Lakes Coast Guard is reminding boaters of the importance of carrying life-saving emergency distress equipment.

While many boaters rely on cell phones for emergency communications on the water, personal locator beacons are much more reliable in the marine environment.

The Coast Guard highly recommends all mariners equip their boats with Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons and/or their life jackets with Personal Locator Beacons.

“EPIRBs and PLBs are absolutely invaluable during emergencies because they instantly alert responders to your distress, provide a precise GPS location and give a description of your vessel when they’re properly registered,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard 9th District. “If your boat capsizes or you fall overboard and can’t get to your radio, these small, relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment, along with your life jacket, really could be the difference between living and dying.”


EPIRBs and PLBs may be activated manually by the push of a button or automatically when they enter the water, depending on the model.

A PLB is a small battery-powered device that transmits a digital burst to a satellite once every 50 seconds, which the Coast Guard monitors. These devices have a shelf life of 6 to 8 years.

PLBs send out a continuous signal for 48 hours unless turned off. New search-and rescue technology aboard Coast Guard Dolphin helicopters and 45-foot response boats can now hone in on the signal of a transmitting PLB.

The 406Mhz PLB signals are coded, allowing non-PLB signals to be filtered out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operated search and rescue satellite aided tracking.

Additionally, in accordance with federal law, recreational boats 16 feet and longer are required to carry visual distress signals such as flares, smoke signals or non-pyrotechnic devices, and vessels 12 meters or longer are required to carry sound-producing devices such as whistles, bells and gongs. State and local laws may require further safety equipment.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration search and rescue satellite aided tracking system counts that in 2015, 138 people were rescued at sea in 46 different incidents by using an EPIRB or PLB. In the U.S., more than 7,800 people have been rescued by EPIRB or PLB since 1982.

USCG phone app

The Coast Guard released a new smartphone app for boaters, called United States Coast Guard, last year.

As the nation's recreational boating safety coordinator, the Coast Guard works to minimize loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and environmental harm. The Coast Guard's boating safety program involves public education programs, regulation of boat design and construction, approval of boating safety equipment, and vessel safety checks for compliance with federal and state safety requirements. The Coast Guard mobile app supports these missions by providing the essential services and information most commonly requested by boaters.

Coast Guard urges float plans  Follow link

May 24, 2016 10:08 am

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard urges all boaters to file a float plan with family or friends during National Safe Boating Week and the boating season.

A float plan, similar to a life jacket, is a life-saving device on paper, which can make a difference in rescue and response time in the event of an emergency.

Before boaters embark, they should leave detailed information about their trip with a family member or friend who is staying ashore. Include all information that would help rescuers in case of emergency, such as how many people are aboard, where you are leaving from and returning to, your intended route, how long you will be out and a description of your boat. However, do not file float plans with the Coast Guard.

A float plan is equally effective for the owner of a kayak or flat-bottom skiff as it is for a large cruiser, a 90-foot sport-fishing vessel or luxury yacht.

Typically, the owner or master of the vessel is the individual who prepares the float plan; however, any member of the crew can be assigned the preparation and filing duty.

To obtain a float plan form, click here for a downloadable form.

Boating Class

America's Boating Course: One of the best ways to have a fun boating experience is to "know before you go". If you are a new boater or an experienced boater in need of a refresher course, consider taking a boating course.

More info ...

USPS Activities - Boating is fun...we'll show you how




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