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Let's Go Boating...Safely!

Roger Blaugh, a Patch environment and nature blogger, is also an avid boater and lieutenant commander of the Peconic Bay Power Squadron. Here, Roger offers spring-time safety tips for boaters.

It's the Perfect Time to Have Your Boat Inspected

With summer just around the corner, boaters are preparing their vessels to take their friends and families onto our beautiful local waters.  This is the right time…the perfect time…to have your boat inspected by a Certified Vessel Examiner of the U.S. Power Squadron or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.  They’ll check your inventory of safety devices to make sure they are current and in good working condition before you place your family and friends on your vessel. 

Here's a little information on their inspection process as well as a review of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), how to size them and what you'll need to have onboard your vessel. 

To have your boat inspected, email safeboaters@hotmail.com. You'll be contacted by a local inspector to make an appointment.

What is a Vessel Safety Check (VSC)?

A Vessel Safety Check is a “courtesy” examination of your boat (vessel) to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by State and Federal regulations.

The Vessel Examiner is a trained specialist and is a member of the United States Power Squadron or the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. They might also make a few specific recommendations and discuss certain safety issues with you that will make your boating excursions a safer experience.

This is not a “boarding” or a law enforcement issue. No citations will be given as a result of this encounter. They will supply you with a copy of their "evaluation" so that you may follow some of the suggestions given, if you wish.  Vessels that pass their basic inspection, will be able to display the distinctive 2012 VSC decal. This does not exempt you from law enforcement boarding, but you will be prepared to make subsequent boardings a positive encounter, should they occur. To learn more visit http://safetyseal.net/what_is_vsc.asp.

May is Boating Safety Month:  This is the perfect time of the year to review your inventory of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), to be sure you have “the right one” for each person aboard your boat.  According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 672 people died from boating related accidents in 2010 — a decrease of nearly 9 percent from 2009. However, approximately 88 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket

A Review of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

A personal flotation device — more often called a PFD, life jacket or life vest — gives you more buoyancy to help keep you afloat in the right position.  The most important advice you can get about PFDs is simply this:  Be sure to wear one.  Whether canoeing on a calm harbor or sailing the bay or the Sound, sea conditions can change at a moment’s notice and a PFD can save you, your child and even your dog!

Did you know?  In NY State, anyone on a jet ski, anyone being towed behind a vessel or any child under 12 years old must wear a PFD, unless they are contained in a fully enclosed cabin.  

Sizing your PFD:  For adults, your chest size – not your weight – will determine what size is right for you.  For children, their weight will determine the size.  Sizes vary by brand and model, so check the size info listed on each product guide to find the right size for your situation.  Marine supply stores are very adept at helping in these matters.

A PFD should be snug and fit like a glove, yet allow you to move freely and not chafe while paddling or working about your boat.  To get the best feel and fit, wear your clothes while trying on a PFD at the store to help find the right size and freedom of movement. 

Women should consider women-specific PFDs versus uni-sex styles.  Women’s PFDs typically offer a better fit thanks to princess seams, contoured cups for larger bust sizes and specially design PFDs for longer torsos.  And remember, the more straps, the great adjustability and that means 'greater comfort’.  Finally, all PFDs must be USCG approved.  Don’t waste your money on those that aren’t, because they won’t pass inspection.

What PFDs are you required to carry aboard your vessel?

Boats less than 16-feet, canoes & kayaks are required to carry one (1) Type I, II, III or V for each person on board (see type definitions below).  Boats over 16-feet are required to carry one (1) Type I, II, III or V for each person on board AND one (1) Type IV "throwable".

PFD Types
   Type I - off-shore maximum buoyancy unit.
   Type II - near-shore with less buoyancy than type I
   Type III - inland/maximum comfort type, type II buoyancy.
   Type IV - throwable unit for calm water rescue.
   Type V - inflatable or special suit type, buoyancy varies.
   (Type V must be worn when boarded or inspected
            to count toward the minimum requirement)

Whatever your destination…go safely and always be fully prepared for a change of weather and sea accompanying conditions.  While the air is still a bit chilly this Spring, take the time to consider a Vessel Safety Check.  Certified Vessel Examiners have considerable boating experience and are the best friend a seaman, kayaker or sailer could ever have aboard their vessel.  Make a new friend...call one today.

To have your boat inspected, email me at safeboaters@hotmail.com. You'll be contacted by a USPS inspector to meet you at your boat.

I'll see you on the water!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

East Hampton Retiree May 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Sage advice from Mr. Blaugh, the wordmeister. Thank you! I enjoy your blogs.

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