To play it safe at sea,
keep your life vest on at all times

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (05/20/00)
By Ray Pendleton

Boat smart from the start. Wear your life jacket. That's the Coast Guard's campaign slogan for this year's National Safe Boating Week, May 20 - 26.

According to Lt. Greg Fondran, the 14th District's public affairs chief, "The Coast Guard is asking boaters to wear their life jackets from the start because the main causes of preventable small-boat fatalities are capsizing and falling overboard."

Naturally, this advise is particularly important for those who do not swim. But anyone who has gone overboard fully clothed or wearing foul-weather gear, will quickly agree a life jacket or personal flotation devise (PFD) can save your life.

The Coast Guard also points out that the majority of boat-related drownings have occurred to those who were not wearing life jackets or PFDs at the time of an accident. In other words, if the life jacket is stowed under a seat somewhere, it probably won't do you any good.

In order to attract the public's attention to National Safe Boating Week, the Coast Guard will have the 110-foot cutter Assateague moored this weekend at Pier Nine, in front of the Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Assateague and her crew of 16 are responsible for maritime search and rescue, as well as law enforcement, around the main Hawaiian Islands, although the 14th Coast Guard District - our nation's largest - covers some 12.9 million square miles.

With the cutter's home port just across Honolulu Harbor on Sand Island, she is a common sight for local mariners, as well as visitors to Aloha Tower, but from somewhat of a distance.

To offer a more up-close and personal view, the Coast Guard will offer free guided tours of Assateague from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday, which will give the public a better appreciation of the cutter and her crew.

Along with tours of Assateague, members will be on hand dockside to discuss safe boating practices and to explain the role of the Auxiliary and its new relationship with the .

Recently, the two organizations officially joined forces in implementing a comprehensive, but voluntary, Vessel Safety Check Program for recreational boats that replaces the Auxiliary's longstanding Courtesy Marine Examination. The collaboration, it is hoped, will increase the number inspections made each year and bring about a corresponding decrease in boating accidents.

With the cooperation of television's Baywatch Hawaii, members of the two organizations will will demonstrate a typical vessel safety check of the popular series' bright yellow Scarab rescue boat.

The demonstration will give the public an opportunity to witness firsthand the importance of such inspections and provide something of a refresher course on federal and state boat safety requirements.

On the other hand, if you plan to be too busy fishing or sailing this weekend to make it to the Aloha Tower Marketplace, there is another way to refresh your knowledge of safe boating procedures.

"We have several all-new informational brochures detailing safe boating practices and PFDs," said Howard Gehring, state boating administrator. "These are available for free at all Harbor Master offices around the state."

Either way, why not make this Safe Boating Week your time to review all of the latest methods of safe boating? It could save your life, or of one you love.

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