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Archive for the ‘Vessel Safety Checks’ Category

The Coast Guard has requested Auxiliary Vessel Examiners to assist them in carrying out safety examinations on the boats BP is hiring to carry out missions caused by the oil spill.  If you can join us tomorrow morning and perhaps any day this week, please contact me by e-mail, , for details.

We plan to meet tomorrow morning at 0730 in the lobby of the Freeport McMoran Building, 1615 Poydras St.   The building is directly across the street from the Superdome.  Your parking will be taken care of.

Besides helping the Coast Guard and your State, you will be allowed with this training and experience to challenge for the CFVE Certification.  You will be assigned as a trainee with other qualified examiners tomorrow until qualified.   I have been told qualification can be obtained this week.

Please join us tomorrow if your schedule allows.  The uniform will be ODU’s.  But, I also suggest cool civilian pants, shirt and hat be brought along just in case.

Thank you,

Jim Liverett, DCDR

Orion, a Visual Distress Signal (flare) manufacturer, has a safety awareness program which offers points toward free products for Vessel Examiners.

See the attached pdf files to see how to qualify!

Orion Safety Awareness Program

Saved by the Signal

It is hard to see on the chart below, but here are the heights and durations of these flares:

  • Pocket Rocket Aerial Flares — 300′ and 6.5 seconds
  • 25MM Aerial Flare — 375′ and 7 seconds
  • Skyblazer II Aerial Flare — 450′ and 6.9 seconds
  • 12 Gauge HP — 500′ and 7 seconds
  • Solas & 25MM Aerial Parachute — 1,000 ‘ and 29-40 seconds
  • Hand-Held Flare — 3 minutes

If you use flares to qualify as your VDS, you must have a minimum of three, which are NOT expired. This is one of the requirements of a Vessel Safety Check and one of the first things the Coast Guard will look for if they board or inspect your vessel.

However, do not throw the expired ones away. Keep them in a separate moisture proof container because they might save your life if you use up the unexpired ones. Expired flares have been known to fire even after 10 or more years, if they are kept dry.  For more information, download this Orion brochure called Saved by the Signal.

TIP #1: If you decide to use a flare gun, CHECK TO SEE THAT THE BARREL OPENS before you ever need to actually use it.  There were some defective guns which accidentally made it to the market that would NOT open and although your chances of getting one of these is slim, it is a good practice to make sure your flare gun is operable before you need to use it. However, DO NOT fire a real flare to “TEST” the gun. This is illegal because if someone sees it and reports it to the Coast Guard, you will be fined when someone shows up to assist you and it was a false alarm. (Much like making a false 911 emergency phone call.)

TIP #2: In an actual emergency if you need to fire a flare, try to wait until you can see or hear an approaching vessel or aircraft because you might be firing into the sky with no one around. Also, after you fire the first one, wait about ten seconds and then fire the second one. This is in case someone sees the first flare but is not sure it was a distress signal. The second flare confirms that they have seen something genuine and then can respond accordingly.

Study the images below and learn the differences in types of flares, their duration and the height to which they rise. It makes a big difference in the distance that they are visible from another vessel.

Learn more about Visual Distress Signals by taking one of our boating safety classes in Mandeville at the Pontchartrain Yacht Club or in Madisonville at the Town Hall. See the 2010 Calendar for dates and locations.

Northlake Flotilla 42 has proudly served the needs of the boating public in Mandeville, Madisonville, Covington and neighboring areas on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain for over 27 years. To learn more about us, becoming a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and how we serve to increase recreational boating safety, visit Contact Us. However, no matter where you live, you are welcome to attend any of our classes.

Auxiliarists have a great deal to be proud of.

Over the past ten years, Auxiliary members have:

  • Contributed  44,417,850 hours
  • Taught 1,678,946 people with 980,000 hours of classroom work.
  • Spent over 869,000 hours in community relations and media events
  • Conducted 1,170,535 Vessel safety Checks (VSCs) over 579,000 hours, including more than 167,000 first time VSCs and over 158,000 high risk VSCs
  • Made over 418,000 visits Recreational Boating Safety Program Visits spending more than 279,000 mission hours
  • Served 4,297,312 hours underway on safety patrols
  • Worked 56,188 hours on 25,377 missions, verifying 138,867 ATONs
  • Spent over 19,475,000 hours on administrative tasks
  • Examined over 10,223 Commercial Fishing Vessels
  • Provided 1,587,646 hours of Coast Guard Operational Support on over 197,000 Support missions
  • Supported the Coast Guard administratively with  770,554 hours & 115,292 missions
  • Trained over 1,125,019 hours
  • Performed Search and Rescue for over 723,000 hours, resulting in 5,083 lives saved, 141,980 persons assisted, & $1,460,055,940 in property saved.
  • Recruited for The Coast Guard Academy, Active Duty & Reserve Officer and Enlisted programs for  over 105,000 hours
  • Spent more than 700,000 hours on Marine Safety and Environmental Protection missions
  • Contributed more than 22,000 hours in medical support to the Coast Guard
  • Worked more than 39,000 hours in the International arena
  • Consulted with state legislatures for over 5,483 hours

Since 1999, the Coast Guard Auxiliary has participated in events, including but not limited to:

  • OPSail 2000 & USCGC Eagle visits to U.S. ports
  • 9/11 attacks response
  • Hurricanes Charlie, Rita, Katrina, Ike
  • The California Delta Whale Rescue
  • Several oil spills in the gulf coast, Alaska and in California.
  • Annual support for AIM week(s) at the USCGA
  • Annual support for the International Boating and Water Sports Symposia
  • National Association of State Boating law Administrators events
  • Boating Safety Advisory Council
  • Training various waterborne police agencies
  • Support the Coast Guard with Interpreters throughout the world
  • Support as Chefs on CG vessels and stations.
  • Augmenting by Auxiliary Health Professionals at Coast Guard clinics.

We provide the biggest bang for the buck for the American taxpayer.  Each of us should take pride in knowing that we are special group, making a unique contribution to the Coast Guard and our Nation.  Thank you for your service.

COMO Nicholas Kerigan
National Commodore
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Contact:  Jay Culotta
Public Affairs Officer – Flotilla 081-04-02

April 17, 2010


Lack of boater education linked to rise in recreational boating fatalities.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has expressed concern over statistics reporting a rise in recreational boating fatalities in a recently released publication of the 2008 boating safety statistics.

The fatality rate, a measure of the number of deaths against the number of registered recreational boats, increased from 5.3 in 2007 to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational boats in 2008. During this time, the Coast Guard recorded 709 deaths, 3,331 injuries and approximately $54 million dollars in damage to property, stemming from 4,789 recreational boating accidents.

Operator inattention, careless or reckless operation, no proper lookout, operator inexperience and passenger or skier behavior rank as the top five contributing factors to recreational boating accidents.

Alcohol consumption continues to be of major concern in fatal boating accidents and is listed as the leading contributing factor in 17 percent of the deaths.

Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the Coast Guard’s director of prevention policy, emphasized the importance of boating education saying, “The 2008 report shows a clear link between safety and boating education by highlighting that only 10 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety education. This statistic indicates that boaters who have taken a boating safety course are less likely to be involved in an accident. In addition, two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned; and of those, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket. The Coast Guard urges all boaters, whether as an operator or passenger, to take a boating safety course and to always wear your life jacket.”

For seventy years the Coast Guard Auxiliary has provided boater education to the American boating public. Courses are taught by experienced and knowledgeable instructors committed to the highest standards of the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information about Coast Guard Auxiliary boater education course please visit Northlake Flotilla. In addition to boater education courses the Auxiliary also offers free Vessel Safety Checks. (Click here.)

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard created by an Act of Congress in 1939. The Auxiliary, America?s Volunteer Guardians, supports the Coast Guard in nearly all of the service’s missions.

For more information on boating responsibly, go to


Contact:  Jay Culotta
Public Affairs Officer – Flotilla 081-04-02

April 7, 2010


About Boating Safely Course – Saturday, April 17th in Mandeville, April 24th in Madisonville

By Jay Culotta
Flotilla 4-2 8CR USCGAUX

Instructors from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 081-04-02 (Northlake) will conduct an About Boating Safely (ABS) course from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pontchartrain Yacht Club on Saturday, April 17, 2010 and at the Madisonville Town Hall on Saturday, April 24, 2010.

Louisiana Law states that “No person born after January 1, 1984, shall operate a motorboat powered by a motor in excess of ten horsepower unless he has successfully completed a boating safety class approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).  A person who has completed an approved boating safety class shall be in possession of evidence of such completion when operating such a boat.” This law is effective July 1, 2010 and estimates are that about 8,000 residents of the Northshore still need to complete an approved course before July.

This wide-ranging boating class will give operators the knowledge needed to obtain a boat license or safety certification in many states, including Louisiana. In addition, many boat insurance companies will offer discounts (about 10%) on boating insurance to boaters who successfully complete About Boating Safely.


  • Introduction to Boating – Types of power boats; sailboats; outboards; paddle boats; houseboats; different uses of boats; various power boating engines; jet drives; family boating basics.
  • Boating Law – Boat registration; boating regulation; hull identification number; required boat safety equipment; operating safely and reporting accidents; protecting the marine environment; Federal boat law; state boating laws; personal watercraft requirements.
  • Boat Safety Equipment – Personal flotation devices (“life jackets”); fire extinguishers; sound-producing devices; visual-distress signals; dock lines and rope; first aid kit; anchors and anchor lines; other boating safety equipment.
  • Safe Boating – Alcohol and drug abuse; entering, loading, and trimming a boat; fueling portable and permanent tanks; docking, undocking and mooring; knots; filing a float plan; checking equipment, fuel, weather and tides; using charts; choosing and using an anchor; safe PWC handling; general water safety.
  • Navigation – The U.S. Aids to Navigation system; types of buoys and beacons; navigation rules (sometimes referred to as right-of-way rules); avoiding collisions; sound signals.
  • Boating Problems – Hypothermia; boating accidents and rescues; man overboard recovery; capsizing; running aground; hazards; emergency radio calls; engine problems; equipment failures; carbon monoxide (CO); other boating and PWC problems.
  • Trailering, Storing and Protecting Your Boat – Types of trailers; trailer brakes, lights, hitches, tires, and bearings; loading, balancing, and towing a trailer; towing (and backing) a trailer; boat launching and retrieving; boat storage and theft protection; launching.
  • Hunting and Fishing, Water-skiing and River Boating – Carrying hunting gear and weapons in a boat; fishing from a boat; water-skiing safety guidelines and hand signals; water-skiing with a PWC; navigating rivers, and other boating tips.

The course is not only for beginners; experienced boaters will also learn tips and safety techniques that will help them become better and safer boaters. Registration is $30.00 at the door, pre-registration is only $25,00. Multi-person discounts are also available. Details and registration can be found at our website, under the tab Public Education. Since class space is limited, pre-registration is highly encouraged. If you pre-register and are unable to attend the class, you will be able to attend another date in 2010 without penalty.

The need for this class is critical as Louisiana ranks fourth in the nation in total boating accidents, only behind California, Florida and Texas. Help the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary improve recreational boating safety because the life you save might be your own or someone you love. Remember, educated boaters and wearing life jackets save lives!

Those people who are not available for these class dates can contact Jay Culotta.

Contact:  Jay Culotta
Public Affairs Officer – Flotilla 081-04-02


April 5, 2010


Free Vessel Safety Checks Saturday, April 10th in Madisonville

By Jay Culotta
Flotilla 4-2 8CR USCGAUX

Vessel Examiners from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 081-04-02 (Northlake) will conduct Free Vessel Safety Checks from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Madisonville Boat Launch at the mouth of the Tchefuncte River on Saturday, April 10, 2010.

These checks are to help ensure the safety of the vessels and occupants and to educate the operators — NOT to issue citations. The vessel owner receives a copy of the checklist to help correct the missing, incorrect or non-working items and the only other person who sees this is the Vessel Examiner himself. This inspection is NOT reported to any law enforcement or related authority.

Among the items checked during an inspection are the presence of accessible, serviceable life jackets, proper registration and numbering, functioning navigation lights, fire extinguishers and distress signals, such as flares and a horn. If missing or not operating correctly, any of the above could result in a citation if inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard, La. Wildlife and Fisheries or the St. Tammany Sheriff’s patrol — but not from the USCG Auxiliary. If the vessel passes the inspection, it receives a 2010 orange decal.

If the vessel does not pass the inspection, the owner/operator simply needs to notify the original Vessel Examiner when corrections have been made and he will come to the vessel at your convenience to check the missing items and issue the decal.

Those people who are not available for this Saturday’s inspections can contact Jay Culotta at 985-845-9366 or at email to to schedule an inspection.


An Average Day in the USCG Auxiliary

  • Educated 929 People on Recreational Boating Safety & Marine Environmental Protection
  • Completed 7 Regatta Patrols
  • Completed 91 Safety Patrols
  • Accomplished 19 SAR (Search And Rescue) Assists
  • Saved $729,000 Worth of Property
  • Assisted 56 People in Trouble on Water
  • Completed 15 Recruit Support Missions
  • Performed 615 Vessel Safety Checks
  • Participated in 120 USCG Operational Support Missions
  • Participated in 42 USCG Administration Support Missions
  • Completed 122 Public Affairs Missions
  • One or two recreational boaters, whose death was certain – somewhere on the waters of the U.S. – had his or her life saved by a Coast Guard Auxiliarist.

Many people do not take advantage of one of the easiest and most effective ways to help searchers find you if you have an accident, emergency or are stranded and cannot return to port. It’s called a Float Plan and the few minutes it takes to fill one in could save your life and/or the others with you!

A minimum float plan should include your name, the names of the other people on the boat with you, a description of your boat (size, color, type), where you are going and when you expect to return, as well as the purpose of your trip. Be sure you are able to let someone know if you change your plans while you are out. If you don’t, the Coast Guard (or other searchers) might be looking in the wrong place.

If you are launching from a ramp, especially a public ramp, leave a copy of the minimum information on the dashboard of your vehicle so it can be seen from the outside. Police usually patrol the public ramps a few times a day and if there is a lone vehicle in the lot long after everyone is gone, they can see if you should have returned already. If you are overdue they will know who to call for more information and notify the Coast Guard or other agency. Also, by having the name and number of the contact person, they are able to check and verify  you have not somehow already returned.

You can download a copy of a detailed Float Plan from Float Plan Central, Print a few extra to keep in your vehicle in case you forget to leave one at home before you leave.

One of the other advantages to using this form is that you have a checklist of items you should have before you leave. DON’T leave if you are missing some of the emergency gear, like visual distress signals, Life Jackets and adequate drinking water.

All this is covered in About Boating Safely, our most popular safe boating class and the one that complies with the Louisiana requirements for a boating safety class. For more information, click HERE.

Also, get a FREE Vessel Safety Check to make sure you have all the proper gear and that your vessel is good to go! Click here to get more information and contact us to schedule a VSC.

Educated Boaters
Save Lives!

Always Wear
Your Life Jackets!

Life Jackets Save Lives!

03 Marino RBS 60 mov from USCG Auxiliary on Vimeo.

All this and much more is covered in About Boating Safely, our most popular safe boating class and the one that complies with the Louisiana requirements for a boating safety class. For more information, click HERE.