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Free boat checks offered to Ottawa County residents

By Audra Gamble/The Holland Sentinel • Apr 21, 2018 at 6:00 PM

HOLLAND — The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office marine division and the Holland Coast Guard Auxiliary is getting ready for summer by hosting a free vessel safety inspection.

The inspections are open to all boats, from kayaks to racing boats. The free vessel checks will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the Department of Natural Resources boat launch on Ottawa Beach Road.

The DNR boat launch is located between Anchorage Marina at 1825 Ottawa Beach Road and Yacht Basin Marina at 1866 Ottawa Beach Road. During the inspections, Coast Guard personnel will check for an adequate number of life jackets on board, flares, fire extinguishers, lights and other safety features. If a boat is not in compliance with safety requirements, the Coast Guard personnel will inform the boat owners of the relevant laws. The goal of the vessel safety checks is to educate boaters, not issue tickets.

Over the course of a year, the Holland Coast Guard station performs around 400 boat safety checks. For those who are unable to make the May 12 event, inspections can be scheduled by calling 877-875-6296.

Some of the most common safety violations Coast Guard Chief Adam Smart saw at last year’s vessel safety check event include a lack of adequate flotation devices and emergency signaling devices.

Boats must have on board enough life jackets for every single person the boat can hold, and boats longer than 16 feet need to have a Type IV throwable flotation device. Often, boaters don’t have a flare on board. If they do, many times Smart finds that the flares are expired.

Boats may approach the DNR launch by water or people can bring their boats on trailers for inspection. If approaching with a trailer, individuals are asked to park in the parking lot across the street from the boat launch on the north side.

Every kind of vessel from a paddle boat to a sailboat can be inspected, and the inspection will take 15-30 minutes, depending on the size and type of boat being inspected. The larger the boat, the more safety regulations there are.

If a boat passes inspection, a sticker will be given to the boat owner, which means the boat has been inspected and passed by either an Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division officer or a member of the Coast Guard auxiliary.

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