With hundreds of boats set to hit the local waterways over the next few weeks, the City of Grand Haven is prepared to make sure your trips on the water are safe this summer.
“We want to make sure as a community, in providing that Municipal Marina to the public, that everyone that is boating is doing it safely,” Grand Haven Community Affairs Manager Char Seise said.
As part of Boater Safety Week, May 20-26, the city and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will provide free boat inspections from 3-7 p.m. Friday, May 26, at the Grand Haven Municipal Marina’s slip 28, and across the street from the marina at Covenant Life Church’s parking lot, at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Harbor Drive.
The inspections are done on a first-come, first-served basis. No pre-registration is required.
“We’re opening it up to any boaters,” said Joseph Sedlock of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Sedlock said the inspections look at the overall conditions of the vessels and for anything that would be an issue out on the water.
“It’s safety-related — lighting, fire extinguishers, up-to-date flares,” he said. “We look in the engine for wiring and electrical problems.”
Sedlock noted that the safety checks allow boaters to get their vessel inspected for no cost, as opposed to being pulled over on the water by the Coast Guard and given a citation for a safety violation if any issues are discovered.
“It’s a good deal,” he said of the free safety inspections.
Friday’s event isn’t the only boater safety-related event to take place this week.
“The Coast Guard, Ottawa County marine patrol, the state park and Grand Haven Department of Public Safety are all going to participate in a meet-and-greet at Waterfront Stadium (on Tuesday, May 23),” Seise said.
The event will run from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the stadium, located at the west end of Washington Avenue in downtown Grand Haven.
For this year’s National Safe Boating Week campaign and event at the stadium, the Coast Guard will focus on three aspects of boating safety: vessel operator responsibilities; paddlesport safety; and the importance of communication before, during and after on-water recreational activities.
Although 2016 U.S. Coast Guard statistics have not yet been released, in 2015 drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities, and 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
"Much like wearing a seat belt, putting on a lifejacket during or after an accident happens is too late," said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Ninth Coast Guard District. "That's why we recommend that people wear their lifejackets while on the water."