Cmdr. Sean Brady, commander officer of Coast Guard Sector Field Office Grand Haven, said that's a typical question. And while it may look like what Steve observed, the Coast Guard takes measures to ensure that doesn't happen in the long run.
"The bottom line is that we board a representative number of all size vessels over the course of the year," Brady said. "Any vessel of any size is subject to be boarded. Normally, smaller vessels (under 26 feet) will account for a greater number of boardings in any one day simply because they represent 95 percent of the (boating) population (according to the 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics)."
Brady said the Coast Guard tracks statistics very closely to so that they reach a representative population of boaters and ensure that there is no bias over the long term.
"The boardings that Steve notes in his letter are random recreational boating safety boardings — or 'preventative search and rescue,' as we call it," Brady explained. "Unless there is a visible violation, the boat crews are not targeting anyone. Often times, the percentage of larger boats being boarded is deceiving because our boat crews will not tie off and ride alongside a larger boat as we do with smaller vessels."
When the Coast Guard is conducting safety boardings on larger recreational vessels, the coxswain will follow the boat being inspected until the exam is complete. Brady said they even have special booties to wear over their boots when going aboard larger vessels.
If you have reason to believe that a boat is being operated unsafely, Brady said you should notify the Coast Guard immediately. Coast Guard Station Grand Haven can be reached on Marine Band VHF channel 16, or by phone at 616-850-2552.
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