Monday, March 02, 2009

Boating Safety Isn't Just A Slogan

Almost every year, up here on Lake Pend Oreille, we lose one and sometimes more boaters to drowning or other boating misadventures. These lives were lost, not because of a vengeful mother nature, but because the operators of these boats either didn't have the advantage of a boating safety class, or disregarded the rules. Disregarding rules of safety, with the idea that these rules do not apply to you, or the conditions, or whatever else the reckless can think up.

Currently, we have the disaster of several professional and college level football players drove an open 21 foot boat out 30 ,miles into the gulf stream to go fishing. Much of those waters are shallow, which can give a false sense of security. It can also be the harbinger of high waves and rough chop. There is no cure for stupid, and these guys proved it. I wouldn't travel out of scenic bay in anything that small. These boats are built for speed, not stability.

Secondly, they, when finding the waves too rough, anchored. That killed them right there. Unless you have an extraordinary length of anchor line, a short anchor will pull the bow down, causing the boat to swamp as this one did. The decisions that these guys made were all designed to end their lives early.

For those that profess to know a bit about boating safety, or those that were smart enough to take classes on boating safety, will pick up immediately on the fact that rather than anchoring in shallow water with inadequate length of anchor line, was a death sentence. What you do in that situation, that is if you were stupid enough to go out in the ocean 30 miles in a 21 footer, is rig a sea anchor. A bucket or a couple of coats. ...Anything that weighs a lot dragged behind a boat will always keep the bow into the wind, thence keeping you in the boat, and the water out. That these kids didn't know any better, cost them their existence.

We here in Bayview, have decided, with the support and leadership of Timberlake Fire District Chief, Jack Krill, to take a proactive stance with this issue. One, we are planning on trying to establish a coast guard auxiliary here in Bayview. We lost one out of three of the winter fishermen a while back, when with a better education system could have perhaps saved all of them. Premature deaths of otherwise healthy people should and is preventable. We are going to try!

Perhaps one solution would be to outlaw cardtrol fuel pumps that are unattended. With an attendant making sure the blowers are on before engine start, the gathering of fumes after fueling that cost so many boaters their boats and sometimes their lives could be prevented. Fueling requires the boater to open the engine hatches and run the bilge blowers for at least 5 minuets after fueling. Without that you are leaving the dock on top of a bomb.

Those of you that reside in the Bayview area, have a boat and would like to help create a safer environment on the water, can e-mail or call me. If enough are interested, we'll contact the Coast Guard for organizational material.

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