by VINCENT PICA
With the holidays behind us now, it is a good time for all those who stand a watch and wait for the return of those that went to sea to think about being the “safety officer” before they go – because spring is just ahead! And skipper, how about the love you have for those that go to sea with you – kids, grandkids and mates – and creating the safest possible environment aboard?
From the Heart to the Head
There is no doubt that even the most grizzled seafarer can benefit from a boating safety class. Regulations do change over time, and techniques get refined and advanced. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Divisions 7, 24 and 25 cover all of Connecticut, from one end to the other. Additional Auxiliary divisions supporting NY, RI and MA can be found here: www.uscgaux.info. Want to find out what, where and when the latest boating safety classes are? Email me at the address below and I’ll look it up for you, or go right to the web and find out:
Western CT: http://wow.uscgaux.info/peclass.php?unit=014-07
Central CT: http://wow.uscgaux.info/peclass.php?unit=014-24
Eastern CT: http://wow.uscgaux.info/peclass.php?unit=014-25
From Stem to Stern
There is no greater “for free” service available than the free vessel safety check And, this is not a regulatory event like getting your car inspected. If the boat doesn’t meet all the Federal standards, nothing bad happens (like not being able to drive your car since the inspection sticker was scraped off). Most likely, the USCGAux examiner will give you their cell phone number and ask you to call them when you’ve addressed the deficiency – most likely an expired flare package. And both exams are free! Want to schedule one? Email me and I’ll look it up for you, or go right to the web and find out: http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=V-DEPT&category=i-want-a-vsc
Nothing Lighter – or More Valuable
The statistics on life jackets are sobering for those that don’t use them. For every 16 boaters that go into the water that don’t have life jackets on, only one comes out alive. Conversely, if they had a life jacket on, 15 would come out. What population do you want your boater to be in? And, if they are the inflatable type, they hardly know that they have them on! Don’t forget that the USCGAux is sponsoring a “Kids Don’t Float” program. We leave life jackets at various cooperating marinas and you can borrow them for the day – on the honor system solely – for your favorite price: Free!
The Silent Killer – Carbon Monoxide
If your boat has any enclosed spaces, it needs a carbon monoxide detector. For about $30 at any major retailer like Home Depot, etc., you’ll have the wake-up call that otherwise wouldn’t come.
The Wireless “Kill Switch”
Every powerboat comes with a lanyard that is tied to the helmsman’s belt or life jacket and also back to the ignition switch. If the helmsman falls overboard, the lanyard goes with him and the engine stops, along with the boat. This gives the boater the chance to climb back aboard. But no one uses the lanyard because the helmsman is lashed to the helm. He can’t even walk a couple of feet across the deck to fetch a landing net for one of his fellow boaters. But now there are “wireless lanyards” on the market! The helmsman can walk all over the boat – just don’t leave it! Now, that is a major safety uptick! Check on the Internet or with any major chandlery.
Other great ideas to help keep boaters safe include:
• Emergency signaling kits: flares, signal mirror, whistle, etc.
• Up-to-date navigational charts and/or a handheld GPS unit
• Navigation tools and calculators
• Hand-held VHF marine radio with extra batteries
Show your love – for the crew and the skipper.
If you are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at JoinUSCGAux@aol.com or go direct to the D1SR Human Resources department, who are in charge of new members matters, at FSO-PS@emcg.us and we will help you “get in this thing.”
Captain Ed Cubanski is the Captain of the Port and Sector Commander for US Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. Captain Cubanski is responsible for all active-duty, reservist and auxiliary Coast Guard personnel within the Sector. Vin Pica, a Commodore for the First District Southern Region in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, works closely with Captain Cubanski and his staff to promote boating safety in the waters between Connecticut, Long Island and 200 nautical miles offshore. Sector Long Island Sound Command Center can be reached 24 hours a day at 203-468-4401.