Coast Guard Offers Safe Boating Reminders

Photo credit: Stinkie Pinkie

NEW YORK, N.Y. – It is going to be a warm, sunny, 3-day holiday weekend and a fine opportunity to take your boat out on the water for recreation. Don’t spoil it by being unsafe. The Fourth of July holiday is not only the busiest boating period of the year, but it also holds the tragic distinction of being the deadliest.

In New York state and northern New Jersey, there were 16 boating fatalities in 2008-2009. In 14 of those deaths, the victims were not wearing a life jacket.


Over the past dozen July 4th holidays, 40 fatalities have occurred on waters throughout the New York, New Jersey and New England area. Alcohol was a factor in nearly half of all deaths on the water during July 4th holidays.

The Coast Guard offers these tips to make your weekend a safe one.

  • Make sure your boat is mechanically sound and watertight. Having a mechanical failure in the middle of the harbor or Long Island Sound or the River is not the place to find out that there’s a problem.
  • Be sure you have enough fuel, water and food to get you where you want to go and back with a margin for safety.
  • Carry enough life vests for every person aboard and children younger than 12 should wear their life vests at all times.
  • The air temperature will be in the 90s and that is plenty warm. But, the water will be colder and can be considerably colder the farther from shore you go. Especially after dark, hypothermia is a real danger for anyone who spends time in the water. Have warm, dry clothes with you.
  • You need to be able to call for help in an emergency and you have to know where you’re going. Part of your standard equipment every time you get into your boat should be a VHF marine radio, a cell phone a GPS unit and updated charts readily to hand. Just because the day starts out bright and sunny, it doesn’t mean that fog could not roll in without warning.
  • Make sure your lights are working. After dark or in the fog, those lights can save you from a nasty collision.
  • And, keep clear of the shipping channels. These are clearly marked. They are used by large ocean going vessels that simply cannot maneuver rapidly in order to avoid small pleasure craft. Coast Guard patrols will be out this weekend enforcing Operation Clear Channel, designed to keep the shipping channels clear for large commercial ships.

Common sense should also govern your consumption of alcoholic beverages while operating a boat. It is just as unsafe, if not more so, to operate a boat while intoxicated as it is to drive a car while intoxicated.

The rules are clear and simple and are designed so that your recreational boating experience is a safe one. Fishing boats, all sailboats and all small boats (any that are less than 20 meters in length) may not impede the passage of a larger ship that can only safely navigate within the channel.

Additional Safe Boating Information can be found at

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