As boating picks up in popularity amid pandemic-related closures (as Bay Bulletin recently reported), boating-related emergencies are also picking up.
The U.S. Coast Guard Mid-Atlantic says its command centers saw a spike in distress calls and rescues this Father’s Day weekend in the Chesapeake Bay region.
Coast Guard crewmembers assisted in three medical evacuations, responded to six disabled vessels, five vessels taking on water, two vessels aground, one vessel on fire, and seven boats needing a tow from New Jersey to North Carolina.
Even more boaters are taking to the water this summer because of other activities and travel being limited by COVID-19 restrictions, according to the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association. The Coast Guard points out, our waterways are likely to get even busier as the season goes on.
“With summer right around the corner, we will continue to see more folks out on the water,” says Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Castonguay, a command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. The Coast Guard reminds people that a little planning can keep a day on the boat from being ruined.
“Some of the cases that took place over the weekend were preventable if people took the right precautions such as having proper communications and safety equipment, filing float plans and following navigational markers. We want people to enjoy their time on the water, but safety is, and will always be, our first priority.”
The Coast Guard shares these tips with boaters:
* You can get a free vessel safety check with your local Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla or U.S. Power Squadron
* Review a pre-departure checklist to ensure you have everything you need in your boat, including a tool kit and first-aid kit
* Always file a float plan or provide an itinerary with someone you trust
* Ensure everyone on your vessel has a properly fitting lifejacket
* Be familiar with state boating laws
* Know the “Rules of the Road” on the waterways
* Don’t drink and drive a boat; alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination
* Respect your limits and keep within your limits to avoid injury – river currents can be very unpredictable.
-Meg Walburn Viviano