Coast Guard offers free vessel safety checks
Written by Soo Evening News   
Wednesday, 25 May 2005 02:38
As part of National Safe Boating Week, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be conducting free vessel safety checks during the Memorial Day weekend. "Safety, that's the biggest thing," said Vice Flotilla Commander Max Cox, explaining the rationale behind the annual inspection push. He also noted that 31 children had drowned in the State of Michigan in the last year that statistics were compiled, underscoring the importance of this effort.

The Associated Press reports there were 170 boating accidents in 2004, a substantial decrease from the 226 recorded in 2003. There were 26 fatalities associated with the 2004 boating season, down from the 29 recorded in 2003 and 38 in 2002.

The Associated Press also reports that 75 percent of Michigan's boating mishaps occur in the months of June, July and August with more than half taking place on the weekend. Most of the boating accidents occur on inland lakes.

The inspections - designed to insure that boats traveling up and down the St. Marys River System carry all of the required items - will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Aune-Osborn Boat Ramp.

The proper display of identification numbers on the boat and the presence the registration are both required for the inspection process. The Coast Guard Auxiliary will also check for various other items that can mean the difference between life and death in a boating emergency including personal floatation devices, visual distress signals, fire extinguishers, operable navigation lights and noise makers. Proper ventilation and backfire flame control are also on the checklist as the inspection includes the overall boat condition.

Cox indicated it probably takes somewhere between 10-15 minutes to complete the average inspection. Smaller fishing boats are usually finished at a quicker pace, while those with larger boats that include below deck space and sanitation devices may require more time.

The pay-off, for those who pass inspection, comes in the form of the 2005 Vessel Safety Check Sticker. Although the sticker does not constitute a free pass for the upcoming boating season, it can be beneficial.

"If they (the U.S. Coast Guard) see that sticker on your boat they are less likely to pull you over," Cox explained.

If unable to attend one of the weekend inspection dates, boaters have the ability to schedule their own meeting at any point in time. Cox can be reached at 253-9891. Other available inspectors include Don Lawrence, who can be reached at 635-5889, or Bruce "Scotty" Allan at 632-7894.

There were 944,800 boats registered in the State of Michigan last year.

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