Category Archives: Recreational Vessels

Rescue Swimmer (documentary)

This is a documentary movie on the history and training of Coast Guard and Navy Rescue swimmers and shows the mental and physical demands placed upon these men and women.


Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

gCaptain has an excellent article that they publish every Memorial Day weekend titled “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning”. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approximately 3,900 people drown in the United States each year. Many of these people are just yards from people that could save them.

The major risk factors in drowning are:

  • Lack of Swimming Ability
  • Lack of Barrierssuch as pool fencing
  • Lack of Close Supervision
  • Failure to Wear Life Jackets
  • Alcohol Use
  • Seizure Disorders

The gCaptain article discusses “Instinctive Drowning Response” – which is a medical term used to describe how an individual acts when they are drowning – they cannot waive their arms, they cannot yell, there is very little splashing. This is in stark contrast to the image that most people have – so they don’t recognize the signs of someone that is in the process of drowning.

As we begin the summer swimming season, I highly recommend that you read this article so that you can be aware if someone is in danger of drowning. If you see it – try to get a trained lifeguard to respond. If there isn’t a lifeguard available – then remember the American Red Cross priority – Reach – Throw – Go.  Reach the drowning victim with a pole, oar, or other object. Throw an object to them such as a PFD tied to a rope. As a last alternative – Go yourself if you are a strong swimmer.  You don’t want them to make you an additional victim by pulling you under.

The gCaptain article is at this link.

Have a safe summer.

Please “share” this article with your Facebook friends.


On June 8, 2014 off the coast of England a dredge vessel SHOREWAY ran over and sank the 32 foot recreational sailboat ORCA resulting in the death of one of the 2 individuals on the ORCA.  Commercial vessels and recreational vessels need to safely share the same waterways. The investigation of this casualty by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) of the British Government found that the operators of both vessels in this casualty should have been more aware of each other on the water.  The SHOREWAY did not see the ORCA and the ORCA misjudged the speed of the ORCA.

MAIB has published a 2 page flyer to help recreational vessel operators better understand these challenges – including photographs showing how fast a commercial vessel can overcome their position. The flyer is at this link.

The key findings of their report are as follows:

  • “It is essential that all vessels maintain a proper lookout at all times. Had the crew of either SHOREWAY or ORCA done so, this collision could have been avoided.
  • “Leisure boat users should never assume that they have been seen by other vessels, nor should they assume that the other vessels will always take avoiding action. Due to the good visibility, the officer on watch on SHOREWAY was not using his radar and had not seen the target of ORCA that had been visible on his screen for 11 minutes before the collision.
  • “Leisure sailors need to be particularly aware of closing speeds between their own vessels and other vessels. In this case, SHOREWAY was travelling at 12.9kts but many types of vessels, including ferries, cruise ships and container ships, regularly sail at speeds over 25kts and, as a result, distances that initially appear sufficient can be reduced surprisingly quickly.”

There are lessons in this report for all mariners.

The complete MAIB report can be found at this link.

An APP that can save a boater’s life

The Coast Guard has developed an App for both Apple and Android devices that will help improve the safety of boaters.  The App has several features including:

  • Find the latest safety regulations
  • Request a vessel safety check
  • Check your safety equipment
  • File a float plan
  • Navigation Rules
  • Find the nearest NOAA buoy
  • Report a hazard
  • Report pollution
  • Report suspicious activity
  • Request emergency assistance

This App is recommended for all boaters.

You can help save a life by sharing this story through Facebook, Twitter or by e-mail with your friends and family members who use recreational vessels.

The App can be download at:

Itunes (for Apple)

Google Play (for Android)

604 deaths in 2014 from recreational boating accidents

The Coast Guard issued their 2014 Boating Safety Statistics.  The full report can be found at this link. Some of the highlights of the report are:

  • In 2014, the Coast Guard counted 4,064 accidents that involved 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries and approximately $39 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
  • The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 10.6% increase from last year’s fatality rate of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
  • Where cause of death was known, 78% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84% were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Only 12% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.
  • Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
  • Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
  • Where data was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (47%), canoes (13%), and kayaks (10%).
  • The 11,804,002 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2014 represent a 1.7% decrease from last year when 12,013,496 recreational vessels were registered.

Coast Guard investigation of barge / recreational boat collision in Michigan

The Coast Guard is investigating the casualty and death of a recreational boater who died on Monday when the fishing boat he was in was run over by a barge pushed by a towing vessel.  The engine of the boater had died and he and a companion were trying to get it restarted so that they could get out of the way of the barge.  The captain of the towing vessel has said he was unaware that the collision had even occurred. Police have said that an individual had called 911 to report seeing the boat floating upside-down in the water. The Coast Guard investigation will determine whether the barge should have had a lookout posted.  The Detroit News story is at this link.

Boating Safety needs your help.

Have you always wanted to tell the Coast Guard how to run their business – particularly from the perspective of a boater?  Well, here’s your chance.  The Coast Guard is looking for new members for the National Boating Safety Advisory Committee.  You will have to hurry – they’ve extended the deadline until June 15, 2015. All of the information you need is at this link.

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