SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — As the summer recreational boating season on the Maine coast picks up, U.S. Coast Guard and the Maine Marine Patrol strongly encouraged boaters to be safe and responsible while enjoying time on the water.
Anyone headed out to the water should take several precautionary steps beforehand: Prepare for the weather, ensure your equipment works, and tell a responsible person where you are going.
Lieutenant Scott McCann, stationed at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in South Portland, ME, says, “More people are taking to the water now that summer is here, but that doesn’t have to correlate to more rescue cases if people take a minute to think and prepare ahead of time.”
Wind, fog, and high seas can develop quickly, so review the weather in advance and prepare for the worst-case scenario. As a reminder, the tidal range in Maine can stretch over twenty feet, so keep that in mind when mooring a boat or pulling a kayak out of the water.
Wear a lifejacket or have one readily available. Ensure your radio works. Fully charge the batteries on your phone. Make sure water isn’t coming into your vessel from an unplugged drain or disconnected/open fitting. Make sure you have all the safety gear required of your type and size of vessel.
“It’s also critically important that boaters not become impaired with drugs or alcohol,” said Marine Patrol Lieutenant Rene Cloutier. “Our agency has a zero tolerance policy for boating under the influence. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in recreational boater deaths in the United States. Impaired boaters can expect penalties and consequences to be significant. But our goal is for all boaters to return home safe after a day on the water.”
File a float plan with a responsible person to document where you are going, who you are going with, and what vessel you are using, so that they can call for help if you encounter trouble. Sample float plans are available at www.uscgboating.org.