Recreational Boating Safety – Coast Guard Smart Phone App

By Bob Currie, Vessel Examiner
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Station Galveston Flotilla.
Preparation is one of the main keys to boating safety, and the Coast Guard has a free smart phone app to help with that preparation. If you don’t have a smart phone, this app alone could be reason enough to get one.

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.


The app allows you to enter all of your personal information, as well as the information on any boats you may own or use, and that includes kayaks and personal watercrafts (jet skis, as they are popularly known). The app has nine clickable buttons to help you navigate it. Below is a review of each button.



1. State Boating Information
Boating requirements vary by location. By selecting a state, the app provides a link directly to the state site for boating, and includes accident reporting requirements and an emergency assistance button to be used for direct contact with the Coast Guard or 911.



2. Request a Safety Check
Vessel Safety checks are good for the calendar year, and may be requested at any time. Vessel examiners come to your location to perform them for free.



3. Review Safety Equipment
This button lists both the required and recommended equipment that is specific for your boat’s length and type (power, sail, etc.)



4. File Float Plan
This is one of the most important things you can do prior to operating on the water. We recently had a death due to exposure that may have been prevented had the boat operator filed a float plan with someone.



5. Rules of the Road
Contains excerpts of the Inland Navigation Rules and the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, including Responsibilities Between Vessels, Posting a Lookout, Overtaking, and Passing.



6. NOAA Buoys
Similar to a GPS nautical chart, this button shows your location in relationship to NOAA buoys. It is a live chart, and changes as your location changes. This allows you to see the current weather at the location of the buoy.



7. Report Hazard
Allows you to instantly report a problem with a navigational aid, a hazard to navigation, a marine life issue, or anything that could be an issue for a ship or boat. It has a “Use My Current Location” button for convenience.



8. Report Pollution
Used for reporting oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological (causation) incidents. There is a button that allows you to call an 800 number to report the incident, and a link to report pollution incidents.



9. Report Suspicious Activity
There is a button that allows you to call the Coast Guard’s program, America’s Waterway Watch, to report suspicious activity. There is a link that explains the program and what could be considered suspicious.


Summary
The US Coast Guard app is an electronic tool that should be in every boater’s phone. It is designed to enhance your safety on the water by providing you with the ability to contact the Coast Guard directly from your cell phone in an emergency, as well as provide you with regulatory requirements and allow you to file a float plan with persons who can then provide the Coast Guard your information should you be late returning.

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 [email protected] I am available to perform free Vessel Safety Checks, and I will come to your location to perform them. SAFE BOATING!

[5-6-2019]

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