The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is asking boat owners to help reduce the number of unnecessary emergency responses in the Puget Sound area. On average, Washington-based USCG personnel waste 600 hours a month responding to non-emergencies. The vast majority of these cases are empty boats that have become unmoored from docks during strong weather. In January, the USCG spent 10 hours in just one day responding to four boats that, after a thorough search, appeared to have simply drifted away. The heavy sustained winds during the winter months make this season the most prone to false alarms.
If you know bad weather is on the way, take caution by doubling the number of lines used to secure your boat and moving watercraft normally stored on top of docks to secure areas. Anchoring is often not sufficient for large storms, so it’s helpful to find a spot for your vessel in a marina. Lastly, make sure to attach current contact information to small watercrafts like kayaks and SUPs, and make sure your registration for larger vessels is up to date.
“As our boating public becomes aware of incoming heavy weather, we’re asking they take an extra moment to secure their property, ” said Commander Jo-Ann Burdian, chief of response for USCG Sector Puget Sound. “We treat each report of these unmanned vessels as a possible distress situation, and we launch Coast Guard search and rescue assets to investigate and assist,” said Burdian. “We are asking for the public’s help on this issue so we can preserve resources for those vessels and people who truly need our assistance.”