Monthly Archives: May 2012

…EPIRBs…

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The following is a safe boating message from the National Safe Boating Council and the National Weather Service for this year’s National Safe Boating Week.

The Cospas-Sarsat system is an international satellite-based search and rescue system used to locate emergency radio beacons transmitting on a frequency of 406 MHz. Since 1982, the Cospas-Sarsat system has been instrumental in the rescue of over 30,000 individuals worldwide and more than 6,700 individuals in the United States. Within the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the lead representative to the Cospas-Sarsat organization.

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons or EPIRBs are a type of emergency radio beacon developed for use in marine environments. Other types of emergency radio beacons such as Personal Locator Beacons or PLBs are available for different applications; however their effectiveness can be compromised when used in the marine environment. 406 MHz EPIRBs are divided into two categories. Category I EPIRBs are activated automatically or may be activated manually. Category II EPIRBs can only be activated manually. Either of these two types of EPIRBs may be equipped with GPS which will help rescue forces locate you more quickly. As proven by experience, an EPIRB often serves as the last line of defense when disaster strikes. All types of EPIRBs are becoming increasingly affordable and all mariners should investigate procuring one, especially those operating in harsh environments or offshore areas.

Once your purchase is made, make certain that you register your EPIRB which is mandatory. The information you provide on your registration may help rescue forces find you faster in an emergency. This information also allows Rescue Coordination Center personnel to determine if a distress alert is real or false and prevent the needless dispatch of rescue forces to locate a false alert. You may register online at http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov/. For any registration questions, please cal1 888-212-7283.

For more information on Cospas-Sarsat or EPIRBs visit: http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/

This message was brought to you by the National Weather Service and the National Safe Boating Council. Visit the National Weather Service on the web at http://www.weather.gov/ and the National Safe Boating Council at http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org/

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Recreational Boating Fatalities at Highest Level Since 1998

Total boating fatalities last year rose to 758, the highest number on record since 1998, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s official 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics.

From 2010 to 2011, total reported accidents decreased less than one percent from 4,604 to 4,588, deaths increased 12.8 percent from 672 to 758 and injuries decreased 2.3 percent from 3,153 to 3,081. Property damage totaled approximately $52 million. The fatality rate measured 6.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, a 14.8 percent increase from last year’s rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.

Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 16 percent of the deaths.

Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket. Only 11 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction.

“We’re alarmed about the staggering number of deaths,” said Capt. Paul Thomas, Director of Inspections & Compliance. Thomas emphasized the importance of boating responsibly, citing the story of a family who lost two children while kayaking in Big Horn Lake in Wyoming last summer. After the weather picked up, the seven kayaks capsized and the party became separated. Boaters should always check the weather forecast prior to launching and remain watchful of changing conditions.

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, get a free vessel safety check and avoid alcohol consumption.

To view the 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics, go to http://uscoastguard.createsend1.com/t/r-l-hljhhyt-gultuuukt-j/ For more information on boating responsibly, go to http://uscoastguard.createsend1.com/t/r-l-hljhhyt-gultuuukt-t/

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…Wind and Waves…

The following is a safe boating message from the National Safe Boating Council and the National Weather Service for this year’s National Safe Boating Week.

Wind and waves affect all types of boats so it is important all boaters know some basic facts about winds and waves.

Wind over water is usually stronger than over nearby land. Wind is the main factor in wave development and in general, the stronger the wind, the larger the waves.

Individual waves are measured from trough to crest. Seas are the combination of both locally generated wind waves and distantly generated swell waves and are expressed in the terms of the Significant-Wave-Height, the mean or average height of the highest one third of the waves. It approximates the value an experienced observer would report if visually estimating sea height. When expressed as a range (for example…. seas 3-5 ft), this indicates a degree of uncertainty in the forecast and/or expected changing conditions (not that all waves are between 3-5 ft).The danger presented to a vessel is a function of wave steepness as well as wave height and is unique to each vessel. In general for small vessels, for a given wave height the danger increases as the wave period decreases.

“The seventh wave of the seventh set” An old fisherman’s tale? Perhaps, but it does serve to highlight that wave and surf conditions are not always constant. In open waters, the occasional wave may be twice that of the surrounding sea. There are occasional reports of “rogue” waves of an even greater ratio. Near shore, waves are even less predictable. So-called “sneaker waves” can grab the unwary who venture too close to the unpredictable sea. Mariners may be drawn too close to the surf zone during periods of relative calm. Proceed cautiously and always be wary of this not uncommon phenomenon, especially in areas where breaking surf is known to occur or appears likely. 

Winds and waves can change quickly in speed, direction, and steepness so it is important you include a marine forecast in your preparations for boating.

This message was brought to you by the National Weather Service and the National Safe Boating Council. Visit the National Weather Service on the web at http://www.weather.gov/ and the National Safe Boating Council at www.safeboatingcouncil.org

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…Marine Forecast…

The following is a safe boating message from the National Safe Boating Council and the National Weather Service.

Understanding a marine forecast is critical to safe boating. Weather and wave conditions can change suddenly, catching boaters off guard and creating life threatening conditions.

Typical marine forecasts predict wind speed and direction, wave heights and periods, roughness of near shore waters, and significant weather. Marine forecasts cover large areas and the forecast elements are often given in ranges. The significant weather may not occur over the entire area or during the entire forecast period. The ranges represent average conditions over a period of time (usually 12 hours) and the actual conditions may be lower or higher than the forecast range. Boaters should plan for conditions above and below the predicted ranges.

Take particular note of any current advisories and warnings, including Small Craft Advisories, Gale or Storm Warnings which alert mariners to either high winds or waves occurring now or forecast to occur up to 24 hours from now. Special Marine Warnings are issued for sudden increase in winds to over 35 knots (40 mph), waterspouts (tornadoes over water), and hail of ¾ inches or greater and indicate a more immediate threat. Marine weather statements bring attention to significant rapidly changing conditions on the water including increase in winds, non severe thunderstorms, development of dense fog and even snow squalls or strong and gusty rain showers.

You should have a marine VHF transceiver with built-in NOAA Weather Radio channels. If you venture beyond about a 25 nautical mile range from shore, you should consider buying a good quality HF single sideband transceiver and satellite phone.

Before setting out, obtain the latest marine forecast and warning information from http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/home.htm or NOAA Weather Radio. Several days ahead of time you can begin listening for extended outlooks which give general information out to the next five days in both graphical and text format.

This message was brought to you by the National Weather Service and the National Safe Boating Council. Visit the National Weather Service on the web at http://www.weather.gov/ and the National Safe Boating Council at www.safeboatingcouncil.org

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…Boating Under the Influence…

The following is a safe boating message from the National Safe Boating Council and the National Weather Service for this year’s National Safe Boating Week.

The effects of alcohol can be even more hazardous on the water than on land. Boating Under the Influence, or BUI, affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments can increase the risk of being involved in a boating accident – for both passengers and boat operators. Alcohol is a contributing factor in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities.

It is illegal to operate any boat or watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties can include fines, suspension or revocation of your drivers license and even jail time.

Every boater needs to understand the risks of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

To learn more, visit the National Safe Boating Council online, at http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org. Visit the National Weather Service at http://www.weather.gov/.

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…Thunderstorm Safety…

The following is a safe boating message from the National Safe Boating Council and the National Weather Service.

Thunderstorms can be a mariner’s worst nightmare. They can develop quickly and create dangerous wind and wave conditions. Thunderstorms can bring shifting and gusty winds, lightning, waterspouts, and torrential downpours which can turn a day’s pleasure into a nightmare of distress.

There are no specific warnings or advisories for lightning but all thunderstorms produce lightning. A lightning strike to a vessel can be catastrophic, especially if it results in a fire or loss of electronics. If your boat has a cabin, then stay inside and avoid touching metal or electrical devices. If your boat doesn’t have a cabin, stay as low as you can in the boat.

Boaters should use extra caution when thunderstorm conditions exist and have a plan of escape. Mariners are especially vulnerable as at times they may unable to reach port quickly. It is therefore strongly recommended you do not venture out if thunderstorms are a possibility. If you do venture out and recognize thunderstorms nearby, head to port or safe shelter as quickly as possible. Ultimately, boating safety begins ashore with planning and training. Keep in mind that thunderstorms are usually brief so waiting it out is better than riding it out.

This message was brought to you by the National Weather Service and the National Safe Boating Council. Visit the National Weather Service on the web at http://www.weather.gov/ and the National Safe Boating Council at http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org .

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National Safe Boating Week Is Underway

It’s National Safe Boating Week. Are life jackets a part of your boating experience?…

Photo courtesy safeboatingcampaign.com    

Saturday (May 19, 2012) was the first day of National Safe Boating Week, which typically occurs the week leading up to Memorial Day Weekend – one of the busiest weekends of the year for boating, and the start of the season for many boaters across the United States.

This year during National Safe Boating Week, and throughout the boating season, remember to…

  1. practice safe and responsible boating, 
  2. always wear your life jacket, and 
  3. be alert and aware while on the water. 

By practicing these simple steps you can save your life as well as the lives of the people boating with you.  Life jackets are now more comfortable and lightweight than ever, with many new styles to fit the style you want.

Safe boating saves lives so for this year’s North American Safe Boating Week and throughout the boating season remember to “Wear It!”

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