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9th District Great Lakes Public Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard

News Release

July 02, 2012


Ninth Coast Guard District

Contact: Ninth Coast Guard District External Affairs Office

Email: D9PublicAffairs@gmail.com

Office: (216) 902-6020

Mobile: (216) 310-2608

Great Lakes Coast Guard terminates unsafe voyages of more than 25 boaters this weekend

7 boaters rescued this weekend

CLEVELAND — Coast Guard boarding teams throughout the Great Lakes region terminated the voyages of more than 25 vessels this weekend due to various reasons, mainly for not having enough life jackets aboard and for boating while under the influence.

Data from 2011 Great Lakes boating casualty statistics identified five primary reasons boaters did not make it home last year.

Drowning and boating under the influence were the top two reasons.  The other three reasons were weather, excessive speed and overloading of the vessel.

Of the more than 25 voyages terminated this weekend by the Coast Guard, 11 were terminated because there were either no lifejackets or improper fitting life jackets aboard.

The Coast Guard recommends that mariners wear a properly fitting Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while underway.  According to the Coast Guard's Recreational Boating Statistics 2011 report, of the 533 people across the U.S. who drowned in recreational boating accidents in 2011, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Nine of the voyages were terminated because the operators appeared to be intoxicated and failed field sobriety tests and/or breathalyzers, which indicates their blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.

Operating a vessel under the influence is illegal. Each year, hundreds of boating accidents causing serious injury or death result from impairment by alcohol. Conscientious mariners watch out for those aboard their vessel and other mariners, as well.

Furthermore, throughout this weekend the Coast Guard and other agencies were able to respond and assist many boaters in distress who contacted emergency services through their VHF-FM marine radio.

A rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Marblehead, Ohio, aboard a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft- Law Enforcement was able to assist four people whose boat was taking on water Saturday night in Lake Erie, near Put-in-Bay, Ohio, after they received a mayday call over VHF-FM marine radio channel 16, the international distress frequency. The rescue crew was able to communicate with the boaters in distress over VHF channel 16 and locate them within ten minutes. The rescue crew was able to dewater their vessel and tow it to a nearby marina in Put-in-Bay.

The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters invest in a VHF-FM marine band radio, which also receives regular marine weather forecasts and warnings.

Coast Guard boarding officers also terminated several vessels voyages due to lack of visual distress signals. In accordance with federal law, recreational boats 16 feet and longer are required to carry visual distress signals, such as flares.

A rescue boatcrew from Marblehead, aboard a 33-foot SPC-LE was able to assist three people whose boat had lost steering near Sandusky Bay, Ohio, Sunday night. A watchstander at Station Marblehead received a call reporting three flares sighted in Sandusky Bay.  The rescue boatcrew aboard the 33-ft SPC-LE responded, located the boat and towed the boat to nearby Sandusky Marina.

Federal requirements can be found in the brochure A Boater's Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats.

All boaters are encouraged to take a boating safety course. Boaters can learn the basics about their vessels and the "rules of the road" in America's Boating Course, a new electronic boating course produced through a partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons. For more information, visit www.americasboatingcourse.com.

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