Coast Guard involved in Put-in-Bay Boat Accident- In last month’s Gazette, you may have read the article about the boat that ran aground on Buckeye Reef between Ballast Island and Buckeye Point. Sadly, groundings are not uncommon on our part of the lake, but each one was probably avoidable. I don’t like to criticize someone’s misfortune, but this offers a teaching moment that I can’t pass up!

Here’s the premise: If you are on any body of water (anywhere in the world) and there are islands, rest assured that there will be areas that are shallow ie. shoals, reefs, wreckage, etc. All water may be wet, but it’s not all deep! The article stated that the boaters had just purchased the vessel and this was their first time out. In this case, charts and knowing how to read them might have avoided this accident.

Having and knowing how to read charts is vital because GPS systems can fail (I’ve had it happen) and depth sounders don’t warn you in advance but work excellently up until the time you hit the rocks! A lack of training places everyone at risk including passengers, other boaters, and Coast Guard members. The good news is that no one was hurt aside from one passenger having a panic attack as the boat took on water.

What was the cost of the rescue? Let’s add up the theoretical costs: A Coast Guard Chopper out of Sector Detroit $7600 per hour.
A three hour deployment = $22,800. A Coast Guard response boat from Station Marblehead $1147 per hour. A four-hour deployment = $4588. Total cost to you the taxpayer is $27,388. It’s incredible that anyone would spend $80,000 on a new boat but not spend $30 on a safe boating class. The consequences can be disastrous.Photo of Coast Guard aiding boat at Put-in-Bay

Imagine you buy a private plane, the salesperson hands you the keys and without a single flying lesson, you go out, get in the plane and take off. If you think boating is different, ask anyone who has had and survived a boating accident! Everyone involved in boating, canoeing, kayaking and even paddle boarding should take a Coast Guard approved safe boating class. I guarantee you’ll learn something.
For information about serving in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Contact the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary at
419-379-9000. Paul Bolden is the commander of Flotilla 091-16-12 at
Coast Guard Station Marblehead and is a seasonal resident of Put-in-Bay