MARQUETTE - A great many people will be on the water this holiday weekend but before they leave the harbor, they must insure their boat is up to date with safety requirements.
For those who are unsure of what safety equipment they need, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts free boat safety inspection for boaters throughout the year. These inspections help familiarize and educate boaters about required safety equipment or fixes that need to be made to avoid fines.
"It is a great service that the Coast Guard Auxiliary performs and it makes sure that you are safe and it makes sure that everything is working," said Neil Winkler, a Marquette resident and boater.
A vessel safety check sticker is displayed in the port side window of Neil Winkler's boat after a volunteer safety inspection performed by United States Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel inspector Mark Yankovich recently. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel inspector Mark Yankovich, right, inspects the engine compartment of Neil Winkler's boat during a boat inspection at the Cinder Pond Marina in Marquette Wednesday. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
An example of flare gun carried aboard a boat. What many boaters don't realize is that the flares themselves expire. The U.S. Coast Guard advises boaters to check their flares and if they are expired to replace them before heading out on the water. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
Today and Saturday, the auxiliary will be stationed at the Marquette Cinder Pond Marina in the Lower Harbor providing these free inspections.
According to Mark Yankovich, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel inspector, inspections are voluntary.
"We will inspect the boat by going through a check list of items," he said.
"It is a great service that the Coast Guard Auxiliary performs and it makes sure that you are safe and it makes sure that everything is working."
- Neil Winkler
Marquette resident, boater
The auxiliary inspects for deficiencies and if any are found they suggest ways to rectify them.
According to Executive Petty Officer Robert Busby of the Coast Guard station in Marquette, depending on the boat size, certain safety features must be on board. For example, flares are required for any boat longer than 16 feet. And all boats must be equipped with enough personal flotation device for everyone on board.
Busby said federal requirements for boater safety differ from state requirements and boaters must follow both sets of rules.
"For instance, if one (rule) required a throw-able type lifejacket and the other didn't, you would be responsible for having it on board," he said.
A key piece of equipment the Coast Guard will be looking for is personal flotation devices, which must be Coast Guard certified.
Under federal requirements, children aged 13 and under are required to wear a fitted personal flotation device at all times unless in a cabin or when the boat is at anchor.
Be smart this boating season and have your boat inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Inspection will be held today from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
Andy Nelson-Zaleski can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 256. His e-mail address is email@example.com.