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Archive for Sunday, June 6, 2004

Coast Guard Auxiliary patrols lakes to promote boat safety

June 6, 2004

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As summer approaches, the number of recreational boaters on area lakes increases -- and so do the chances of accidents.

That's why the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary also will be out on the water, augmenting the regular state and federal officers who regularly patrol the lakes.

On Saturday, auxiliary members set up boat-safety inspections at Clinton Lake and watched for problems on the water.

"We're just checking to see if any boats are in trouble," said Jack Gumb, one of four auxiliary officers patrolling the lake aboard personal watercraft. "So far, no problems."

Auxiliary officers also watch for law-breakers on the water.

"If we see a problem we can stop them and tell them, but we can't cite them," Gumb said. "If they give us a problem, then we can call the state (Kansas Wildlife and Parks) officers."

Most of the violations auxiliary officers see at the lake are motorboats traveling too fast in the "no-wake zone" near the marina, said Lori Shackelford, another auxiliary officer. She and Flotilla Commander Shirley Higgens were conducting boat safety inspections. The inspections at the dock were voluntary. The most common problem found during safety inspections usually are improper displays of boat registration numbers on the hulls, they said.

"Sometimes they have fancy lettering, and you can't read them," Shackelford said.

Another common problem is lack of a proper distress sounding device, such as a horn or bell. A whistle will suffice.

"If this is all that keeps them from passing, we have whistles we can give them," Shackelford said.

A total of five boats were inspected Saturday morning but no major problems were found, she said.

Auxiliary officers will be at area lakes on weekends this summer and sometimes during the weekdays. They have available brochures and pamphlets about boating safety and state and federal boating laws.

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