With big breezes and cold air and water, it has been an eventful few days for boaters and USCG crews on the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
Coast Guard crews were involved in multiple incidences throughout the holiday weekend in Washington, responding to cases where mariners were ill prepared or, with tragic consequences, not wearing lifejackets.
Late Saturday morning, the owner of a sailboat contacted Sector Puget Sound watchstanders with a report that he was in distress in Holmes Harbor. After responding and finding the mariner no longer in distress, a boat crew aboard the Cutter Wahoo terminated the voyage and escorted the vessel owner back to port when they found no lifejackets aboard his boat.
Sunday evening, Sector Puget Sound watchstanders received a report of a person in the water in Thorndyke Bay, four miles south of the Hood Canal Bridge. The adult male fell into the water and was not wearing a lifejacket. Rescue crews from Air Station Port Angeles, Station Seattle and the Cutter Wahoo conducted multiple searches throughout the night and the next morning. Unfortunately, the search was suspended with negative results.
Also on Sunday night, an Air Station Port Angeles aircrew and Station Neah Bay and Station Port Angeles boat crews assisted Clallam County deputies in searching for a missing individual near Deep Creek in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The reporting source stated that she and her friend, neither wearing lifejackets, were aboard a 13-foot vessel that got swamped by waves, throwing both into the water. The Coast Guard crews suspended their search after Clallam County deputies found the missing individual deceased on land early Monday morning.
After the Coast Guard terminated the voyage of a vessel on Tuesday due to finding no lifejackets aboard, they put out a reminder to all boaters to make sure you and your vessel are prepared with the proper safety equipment relevant to the season.
As springtime nears, water temperatures will remain dangerously cold and ensuring the proper use of safety gear, including always wearing a lifejacket, is essential to ensure everyone stays safe while enjoying the waterways of the Pacific Northwest. Keep in mind that that water temperatures haven’t even reached 50 degrees yet — which means falling into the water could be quite shocking, even deadly, if you aren’t prepared.
Here’s a list of tips and tricks from the USCG to enjoy safe boating as spring nears:
• File a float plan; let people know where you’ll be and when you plan to be back
• Carry communication devices; a whistle, a handheld VHF radio, flares for emergencies
• Lifejackets save lives ONLY IF YOU WEAR THEM! Bring properly fitted and age-appropriate PFD’s for everybody on the vessel, including you!
• Check weather and water temps before heading out
• Have proper registration, licenses, and identification relevant to the vessel you’re operating