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Boating Alerts & Notices: 2009

11/19/2009

WEATHER ADVISORY: Coastal and Interior Waters from Point Piedra Blancas to Point Arena


Contact:  Lt.j.g Jeremy Pichette (415) 399-3492

November 19, 2009


SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Coast Guard is urging mariners to exercise caution Friday and Friday night as The National Weather Service has issued a gale warning and small craft advisory for coastal and interior waters from Point Piedra Blancas to Point Arena, California.

Beginning today, light winds and moderate seas will be experienced ahead of a cold front system that will cover the Bay Area Friday. Friday and Friday night, gale force winds of 23 to 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour are forecasted with accompanying rain. A small craft advisory is in effect with off-shore seas forecasted at 12 to 15 feet on Friday.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends boaters avoid taking to the water Friday or until the seas subside. The high winds can cause inexperienced mariners or those in smaller vessels to find themselves in dangerous situations.

There should be a personal flotation device onboard for each person, sized accordingly. If boaters will be traveling offshore, it is strongly recommended that there be an immersion suit or other full-body protection, as water temperatures will be cold, and hypothermia can quickly overtake the average person.

If it necessary to get underway mariners are urged to check that all of their safety equipment is in good condition.

All boaters should also ensure that they have a working marine VHF radio on board to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 should an emergency arise. The Coast Guard reminds all mariners that channel 16 is an emergency frequency, and should be used for such. Misuse of channel 16 or broadcasting false distress calls can result in prison time, severe fines, and you could be liable for any costs incurred as a result of search efforts.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading. It is also recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if your plan should change.

The Coast Guard also encourages all boaters to check the status of mooring and anchor lines, and replace worn lines if necessary. During strong winds and heavy seas, vessels can come loose from the pier or anchor due to worn lines, or not having enough lines attached to the pier or having a heavy enough anchor.

Vessels adrift can become hazardous to nearby vessels as they are tossed about, and can become hazards to navigation once the storm has passed. These vessels can also pose environmental risk as any fluids or chemicals onboard can spill or leak should the vessel break apart.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that people avoid going near beaches or other low-lying coastal areas, especially jetties and rocky areas, over the next several days. Large waves can quickly, and unexpectedly sweep a person from these areas. Even the strongest swimmers can quickly be overtaken by the power of the sea, especially when the cold-water temperatures are factored in.

Given the cold temperatures associated with this system, and the cold Pacific waters, hypothermia is a major concern, as always.

Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.

For more information on boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit www.uscgboating.org.

For more information on weather conditions, please visit www.weather.gov.



11/16/2009

DBW Warns Boaters of Cold Water Immersion


Contact:  Gloria Sandoval (916) 651-5692
cell (916) 715-1657

November 16, 2009


SACRAMENTO - Winter boating season is upon us and the California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is reminding boaters about the risk of cold water immersion.  The ocean and lake temperatures are their coldest this time of year and even a strong swimmer can experience difficulty if they accidentally find themselves in cold water.

“When boaters fall into cold water, it can take just a few minutes before their ability to swim and rescue themselves becomes compromised.  The real risks can take effect in the first few seconds,” said DBW Director Raynor Tsuneyoshi.  “The use of a life jacket increases their survival.”

DBW’s boating statistics for 2008 demonstrate that the likelihood of fatalities as the result of a boating accident is three times greater in the winter than in summer months.

The effects of cold water immersion are predictable and well documented by Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, a thermophysiologist with the University of Manitoba and a world expert on freezing to death through his 1-10-1 principle.

1 minute:  Upon accidental immersion the body reacts with an involuntary GASP followed by hyperventilation of up to 10 times regular breathing.  If your head is underwater during that initial deep gasp you can inhale enough water to drown.  Do not panic.  Breathing will return to close to normal.

10 minutes:  In cold water a person will become INCAPACITATED to the point that the muscles in their limbs stop working and they will no longer be able to swim or rescue themselves.  Try to rescue yourself before incapacitation becomes a factor and if you cannot, at least try to get as much of your body out of the water as possible to delay the onset of hypothermia.

1 hour: After an hour, depending on the water temperature, the body continues to cool and the resulting HYPOTHERMIA can create a range of symptoms from confusion to unconsciousness and eventually leading to death. 

The best way to survive an accidental cold water immersion is to wear your life jacket.  It will help keep your head above water in the event of an accidental immersion until you can get your breathing under control.  It will also keep you afloat while you concentrate on rescuing yourself.  If you are unable to rescue yourself, your life jacket can provide some thermal protection against the onset of hypothermia and keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.
Boaters are also advised to file a float plan before heading out on the water.  The chances of successfully locating an overdue boat are much greater if the US Coast Guard or other rescue agencies have certain facts about the boat trip that may be included on a float plan.  For your own safety and before boating, file a float plan with a reliable person who will notify authorities if necessary.

For more information on safe boating or to fill out a float plan, please visit www.BoatSmarter.com or call (888) 326-2822.



10/12/2009

Coast Guard urges mariners exercise caution as high winds forecasted


Contact:  Lt.j.g. Jeremy Pichette
cell (415) 748-0112
U.S. Coast Guard

October 6, 2009


 

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Coast Guard is urging mariners to exercise caution early next week as the National Weather Service has issued a Special Weather Statement for coastal and interior waters from the Big Sur Coast to the Coastal North Bay.

Tuesday and Tuesday night will experience the heaviest rainfall and strongest winds. Winds are forecasted to be steady 20 to 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 60 miles per hour with rain amounts ranging from 1 to 4 inches throughout the Bay Area and offshore.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends boaters avoid taking to the water Monday through Wednesday, until the winds and seas subside. The high winds can cause inexperienced mariners or those in smaller vessels to find themselves in dangerous situations. There should be a personal flotation device onboard for each person, sized accordingly. If boaters will be traveling offshore, it is strongly recommended that there be an immersion suit or other full-body protection, as water temperatures will be cold, and hypothermia can quickly overtake the average person.

If it is necessary to get underway mariners are urged to check that all of their safety equipment is in good condition.

All boaters should also ensure that they have a working marine VHF radio on board to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 should an emergency arise. The Coast Guard reminds all mariners that channel 16 is an emergency frequency, and should be used for such. Misuse of channel 16 or broadcasting false distress calls can result in prison time, severe fines, and you could be liable for any costs incurred as a result of search efforts.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading. It is also recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if your plan should change.

As the storm season for Northern California begins, the Coast Guard also encourages all boaters to check the status of mooring and anchor lines, and replace worn lines if necessary. During strong winds and heavy seas, vessels can come loose from the pier or anchor due to worn lines, or not having enough lines attached to the pier or having a heavy enough anchor.

Vessels adrift can become hazardous to nearby vessels as they are tossed about, and can become hazards to navigation once the storm has passed. These vessels can also pose environmental risk as any fluids or chemicals onboard can spill or leak should the vessel break apart.

Though the large waves can be an extreme sight to some, the Coast Guard, along with its partner state and local partners, urge people to not go near these areas if at all possible. The risk to life is too great during conditions such as these.

Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.

For more information on boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit www.uscgboating.org.

For more information on weather conditions, please visit www.weather.gov.

.



09/02/2009

Boaters Urged to Operate Safely Over Labor Day Weekend


Contact:  Gloria Sandoval (916) 651-5692
cell (916) 715-1657

September 2, 2009


SACRAMENTO - The Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) reminds boaters to operate safely and wear their life jackets this upcoming Labor Day weekend. The three holiday periods of Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day in 2008 accounted for six fatalities in California. Five of them occurred during the September holiday.

“When waterways get crowded, the chances for collision increase,” said DBW Director Raynor Tsuneyoshi. “It is important that boaters maintain a proper lookout, abstain from alcohol and wear a life jacket.”

Some key boating safety tips to keep in mind this holiday weekend:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Operator inattention was the leading cause of boating accidents last year. While the operator is ultimately responsible for maintaining a proper lookout, it’s a good idea to designate someone else on board to help watch for other traffic, especially on a large boat or in congested areas.
  • Mixing alcohol and boating is dangerous. Of all reported fatalities, 49 percent were alcohol related in 2008. A designated driver is not enough on vessels.  The concept works well in cars, but drunken passengers on boats can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller or cause loading problems by leaning over the side or standing up in small vessels, causing vessels to capsize. Everyone who drinks alcohol on board is at risk.
  • Wear a life jacket. Of the 32 drowning victims in 2008, more than half knew how to swim. Knowing how to swim is one of the most common reasons given for not wearing a life jacket and gives boaters a false sense of security. Often the victim has a serious injury or is knocked unconscious and cannot swim. Other factors that can affect swimming ability include cold water immersion, heavy clothes or alcohol consumption.

For more information on boating safety or to order a boating safety course, please visit www.BoatSmarter.com or call (888) 326-2822. Remember, “If it’s your boat, it’s your responsibility.”



04/13/2009

Boater Advisory: Boaters Urged to Exercise Caution as High Winds Forecasted


Contact:  Gloria Sandoval (916) 651-5692
cell (916) 715-1657

April 13, 2009


SACRAMENTO - The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) strongly discourages boating over the next few days during predicted high winds. The National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory for California coastal waters and a Gale Warning for the entire coastline through Tuesday night. Winds are forecasted to be steady up to 34 mph with gusts up to 40 mph along the coast, and up to 10 miles offshore. From 10 to 60 miles offshore, the winds are forecasted to steady up to 40 mph with gusts up to 46 mph. The high winds can cause inexperienced boaters to find themselves in dangerous situations.

Should boaters go underway, they are urged to check that all of their safety equipment is in good condition and that life jackets are worn by everyone on board.

They should also ensure that they have a working marine VHF radio on board to contact the USCG on Channel 16 should an emergency arise. Boaters should also file a float plan with a friend or family member on land. Plans should include an approximate time of return and location of boating trip. It is also recommended that boaters regularly check in with those who are aware of their plan, especially if the plan changes.

Boaters are encouraged to check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway and to monitor changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel WX2. The USCG broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.

For more information about boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit www.uscgboating.org or www.dbw.ca.gov.

For more information about weather conditions, please visit www.weather.gov.



04/03/2009

EARLY SPRING SNOWMELT PROMPTS WATER SAFETY WARNING

As River Recreation Increases and Trout Season Nears, River Users Should Be Careful

Contact:  PG&E External Communications (415) 973-8709
California Department of Boating and Waterways (916) 651-5692

April 4, 2009


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Early spring snowmelt has prompted a warning from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW). Those planning outings near mountain streams, rivers, and reservoirs should take precautions against swift, cold water flows.

Some of PG&E's reservoirs and lakes are already nearing spill stage due to recent warm air temperatures melting snowpacks earlier than usual. When reservoirs top, large amounts of icy, swift spill water can create hazards.

"Recreationists in mountain rivers and reservoirs need to be extra vigilant of water conditions and take appropriate safety measures," said Jack Purkis, director of PG&E's power generation. "The flows will fluctuate with the warming and cooling of the day."

"Snowmelt and resulting swift and cold river flows can create treacherous conditions for all recreationists - waders, swimmers, paddlers, boaters, anglers and even hikers cooling off at the water's edge," said Raynor Tsuneyoshi, director of the DBW. "Stay safe by wearing a life jacket, avoiding alcohol and being aware of the current."

Rafters, kayakers, and canoeists should beware of fast river flows and cold water, and should exercise extreme caution by checking local conditions before undertaking their trip.

Here are some safety tips:

Know the Water

  • Sudden immersion in ice-cold water can stimulate the "gasp reflex" causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When combined with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.
  • Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.
  • Kayakers and canoeists also need to be prepared for swift, cold water.
  • Lakes and ponds are very attractive on warm spring days but also cold. Use caution and common sense with young children playing near water.

Know your limits

  • Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool - people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
  • Cold water causes impairment leading to fatalities. Cold water reduces body heat 25-30 times faster than air does at the same temperature.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the waters surface. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous.

Wear a life jacket

  • Conditions change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming. Wearing a life jacket can increase survival time.