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What every boater ought to know before visiting a marine sanctuary

by Scott Croft 23 Jul 15:13 PDT
A new video helps boaters prevent mishaps at National Marine Sanctuaries. © Scott Croft

The NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries include more than 600,000 square miles of marine protected areas, from the rugged Olympic Peninsula of Washington to the "shipwreck alley" of Michigan's Thunder Bay and the turquoise-hued shallows of the Florida Keys.

These national treasures present great opportunities for recreational boaters, anglers, and sailors - but only if they're prepared and have the gear and knowledge they need to keep safe when visiting.

The new video Know Before You Go: Keeping You, Your Crew, Your Boat and the Environment Safe aims to help recreational boat owners safely prepare for operating in these spectacular waters, sometimes found far offshore in remote, stormy locations. The 9-minute video was a collaboration by the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Channel Islands, TowBoatUS Ventura, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The video includes interviews with Channel Islands Sanctuary staff, U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue personnel, commercial fishermen, and TowBoatUS Ventura towing captains. Included is a first-hand account and video footage of a disabled recreational fishing vessel in grave trouble at California's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

The video offers these eight tips when planning to visit a marine sanctuary:

    1. Check the weather when you are planning a trip, check the weather when you depart, and check the weather during the trip.
    2. Know the proper size anchor and ground tackle for your boat and the bottom type, and know how to use it.
    3. Ensure you have a working VHF radio aboard, preferably with digital selective calling which can speed a rescue or request for assistance.
    4. Have life jackets for all aboard.
    5. Make a float plan and be sure to leave it with a trusted relative or friend who knows what time you should be checking in upon your return.
    6. Before you go, take a boating safety course.
    7. Due to the distance involved as well as potential high towing costs, have an on-water recreational boat towing plan.
    8. As a final backstop, ensure your boat insurance policy pays for the costs of salvage as well as claims for cleanup or environmental damage due to the accidental discharge of oil or fuel from your vessel.

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