Recreational Boating Safety – Boating Safety Reminders

By Bob Currie, Vessel Examiner
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Station Galveston Flotilla.

The Station Galveston Flotilla of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary operates out of the USCG Station Galveston base on Galveston Island. They provide assistance to the Coast Guard by providing maritime observation patrols in Galveston Bay; by providing recreational boating vessel safety checks; and by working alongside Coast Guard members in maritime accident investigation, small boat training, watch standing, and property administration.

Here are some basic reminders for boaters. These dos and don’ts will get you started.



DO

  1. Have a properly fitting Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board
  2. When crossing the path of another boat, yield to a boat on your right (starboard)
  3. If there is the threat of a collision, slow down, steer away, or stop
  4. When meeting a boat head on, steer to the right (starboard)
  5. Pass another boat on the left (port side), and yield to the boat being passed
  6. Use your engine cut-off device (if so equipped, attach it to your life vest)


DON’T

  1. Don’t operate with passengers sitting on the bow, stern, side rails, or platform
  2. Don’t operate under the influence of alcohol or drugs that may impair you
  3. Do not operate the boat until all persons aboard are seated
  4. Do not operate the boat until checking for persons in the water near the boat
  5. Do not go out without checking the weather forecast
  6. Do not overload your boat with persons or gear

OLD REMINDER IS NEW STATE LAW
One June 10, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that could save boaters’ lives. The bill, “Kali’s Law,” requires certain boat operators to be physically connected to a boat’s emergency cutoff switch, commonly known as the kill switch. Sixteen-year-old Kali Gorzell died in 2012 in a boating accident in Port Aransas. A family friend was operating the boat when it swapped ends. Gorzell fell out of the boat and was hit by the propeller. Her family believes that if the boat operator had been connected to the kill switch, their daughter would still be alive. Kali’s Law becomes effective September 1, 2019. The law will require Texas boaters to use kill switches if their boat is equipped with them. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, of the 29 fatal boating accidents reported in Texas in 2018, the agency believes that 26 might have been prevented if a kill switch had been used.

Texas and federal law have long required that if a PWC (jet ski) is equipped with a cut-off or kill switch, it must be attached to the operator or operator’s clothing. The new Texas law will require that on any boat 26 feet and under equipped with a cut-off switch the operator must be attached to the cut-off switch while they are underway. The fine for failing to follow this law is up to $200.00.

UNLAWFUL to MOOR to ATON
One last reminder for this week: It is unlawful to moor or attach to any buoy, beacon, light marker, flag or other aid to safe operation, also known as an Aid to Navigation (ATON). I see fishermen mooring to a red day marker off Rollover Pass every time I am in that area. That could cost you some big bucks.

For more information on boating safety, please visit the Official Website of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division at www.uscgboating.org. Questions about the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or our free Vessel Safety Check program may be directed to me at rt.currie@gmail.com. I am available to perform free Vessel Safety Checks, and I will come to your location to perform them. SAFE BOATING!

[7-8-2019]

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