Safe Navigation InformationBy Chief Warrant Officer Jim Krzenski
Commanding Officer, U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Pierce, FL
Statistics have repeatedly demonstrated that accidents and deaths are significantly reduced when boating education is increased. Every boater should be encouraged to take a recognized boating safety course. Some boat insurance companies actually provide discounts for completion of these courses. Please call the U.S. Coast Guard's Customer Service Hotline at (800)-368-5647 to determine the location and date that the next boating safety course is offered near you.
So, you've taken this valuable advice and have completed a boating safety course. Have you learned everything you can learn about safe boating? Absolutely not! Learning about safe boating and boating in general is a life long journey. You could have boated for fifty years and still learn something new.
For instance, there are always new types of safety and navigational equipment being marketed every year. There are also regular changes and improvements to the state and federal boating safety regulations.
You should always exercise care when buying new equipment for your boat. You may want to ask yourself,. "Is this purchase a necessity or a nice to have item?" If it is a nice to have item, how may it affect the safety of my boat and crew? If it is a necessity item, am I buying this piece of equipment to comply with a federal or state regulation? If so, does it meet the regulation standards? Is this piece of equipment Coast Guard approved?"
For example when purchasing flares be sure to check the expiration date. Flares are required to have an expiration date that is within 42 months of manufacture. After the expiration date, the flares do not comply with Coast Guard regulations, and are unacceptable to a maritime law enforcement officer. So, take the time to make sure you are purchasing as much of the full 42 month life expectancy of the flare as possible.
The U. S. Coast Guard is constantly providing information which will help ensure your safety while boating, The below listed publications can be obtained from their respective sources. Unless otherwise stated these publications can be ordered from:
Distribution Branch (N/CG33)
NOAA, National Ocean Service
6501 Lafayette Avenue
Riverdale, MD. 20737-1199
U.S. Coast Pilot: Provides specific navigational and safety information. Volume (4) of this manual covers from Cape Henry, Virginia to Key West, FL. Volume (5) covers the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. Coast Guard Light List: Provides specific information for every Coast Guard Aids to Navigation in our country.
Weekly Notice to Mariners: Provides weekly worldwide updates on navigational information and on aids to navigation. Write to:
DMA Office of Distribution Service
Washington, DC. 20315.0010
Local Notice to Navigation: Provides weekly local updates on navigational information and aids to navigation Available at
or on the worldwide web at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/lnm/
U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules: Specifically describes the navigation roles which are designed to prevent collisions between vessels. Write to:
Superintendent of Documents
U.S. Government Printing Office
P.O. Box 371954
Pittsburgh, PA. 12250-7954
or on the worldwide web here
A boater should never rely on any one source of information when ensuring the safe navigation of their vessel. In addition to the above publications a boater should always have up to date charts for the waters they are navigating. Catalog 1, Charts and Publications is a free publication which can be ordered from:
National Ocean Service
NOAA-NOS - N/CG-2262
Notice to Mariners Unit
SSMC-3 - 1315 East West Hwy
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-3282
You can obtain daily updates of navigational information by listening to the U.S. Coast Guard's scheduled broadcasts. These broadcast are announced on channel 16 VHF FM and then broadcast on channel 22A VHF FM. Below is the local schedule of broadcasts.
Coast Guard Group Miami, FL - Broadcast coverage area extends from approximately Sebastian FL, south to the upper keys. It is a five minute message broadcast at 5:30 PM and 8:30 AM,
May all your boating be safe!