The Coast Guard stayed busy during the start of National Safe Boating Week, working together with good Samaritans along the Texas coast responding to mariners in distress.
The following is a synopsis of significant events that occurred Friday and Saturday, with approximate times:
At 5 p.m., the captain of the Lucky Isabella reported the death of a crewmember who had fallen overboard. They were able to recover the man, but were unable to save him. The man was reportedly not wearing a lifejacket. A medical examiner and Coast Guard investigator met them as they returned to port.
Earlier, at 3:30 p.m., a Station Sabine boatcrew responded to a 36-foot sailboat taking on water in the vicinity of the Martin Luther King Bridge in Port Arthur. The boatcrew arrived on scene and assisted in dewatering the sailboat, then towed it back to a haul-out facility.
Saturday (official start of National Safe Boating Week)
11 a.m.: A Station Port O'Connor boatcrew responded to 36-foot Bay Shrimper that was aground and taking on water near Bouy 25 in the Victoria Channel. The crews arrived on scene and assisted in dewatering the boat.
12 p.m.: A Station Galveston boatcrew responded to a 16-foot center console pleasure craft, in the vicinity of the Texas City Dike, drifting toward the Houston Ship Channel. The boatcrew safely towed the boat back to the Texas City Dike.
2:30 p.m.: A Station Galveston boatcrew responded to a 21-foot disabled boat in the vicinity of Rollover Pass near the Bolivar Peninsula. A Sea Tow boatcrew was better suited to assist, due to the water depth, and helped those in distress.
2:30 p.m.: An Air Station Houston helicopter crew diverted, from a routine patrol, to assist a stranded kite surfer in the vicinity of the Texas City Dike. A good Samaritan was able to recover the surfer before the aircrew arrived.
5:30 p.m.: A Station Galveston boatcrew responded to an overturned 21-foot sailboat with two people standing on the haul in the vicinity of the Texas City Dike. They recovered both people in good health and a good Samaritan towed the sailboat to the beach.
This weekend marks the kick off of National Safe Boating Week and the Coast Guard urges all mariners to be prepared. As the significant events that have already happened highlight, being unsafe on the water can be very costly and may even be deadly.
This year, in conjunction with the "Wear It" campaign, the Coast Guard will highlight a safe boating initiative during each day of National Safe Boating Week to increase recreational boating safety, which are:
File a float plan
Vessel Safety Check
Boating Safety Course
Boating Under the Influence
Throughout NSBW, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Power Squadrons and state natural resources agencies will offer safe boating classes and free vessel safety checks. To find the location of the nearest Auxiliary flotilla and a schedule of safe-boating classes, please visit their website at www.cgaux.org.
From 2012 to 2013, deaths in boating-related accidents decreased 14 percent, from 651 to 560, and injuries decreased from 3,000 to 2,620, a 12.7 percent reduction. The total reported recreational boating accidents decreased from 4,515 to 4,062, a 10 percent decrease. The fatality rate for 2013 of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels reflected a 13 percent decrease from the previous year's rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Property damage totaled approximately $39 million. Where the cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those drowning victims, 84 percent were reported as not wearing a life jacket.
"As the peak of boating season is upon us we cannot stress boating safety enough," said Petty Officer 1st Class John Schroeder, an operations specialist at Sector Houston-Galveston. "Wear a life jacket, they can save your life. Always be aware of your surroundings while on the water and don't hesitate to call your local Coast Guard if you're in need of immediate assistance. We want boaters to enjoy themselves, but to do it in a safe manner."
For more on National Safe Boating Week, please visit http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com.