Making good decisions on the water

  • Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:22pm
  • Opinion

It was with a great deal of relief last week that the Clarion reported the successful rescue of six people who had ended up in the Kenai River after boating accidents. Efforts to rescue a dog trapped under a capsized boat were unsuccessful, but there are six people who lived to fish another day.

Thankfully, all six people were wearing personal flotation devices. A life jacket doesn’t guarantee survival, not in the Kenai River’s cold waters and dangerous currents, but it does greatly increase the chances of being rescued.

“Life preservers buy you time in the event of a rescue,” Kenai Fire Department Battalion Chief Tony Prior told the Clarion.

Life jackets are a good place to start — but are only effective if they’re actually being worn. And there are a number of other common-sense steps boaters should take before heading out on the water, whether to participate in the final week of the Kenai River personal-use fishery, or for an excursion onto one of the region’s many other bodies of water.

For one, know your vessel’s capacity — and plan not only for who and what you’re starting with, but also what you hope to bring back.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, sockeye typically weigh between 4 to 15-pounds. For the sake of argument, let’s use 8-pounds and multiply that by 25 — the personal-use limit for a single-member household. That’s 200 pounds. Add another 80 pounds for the 10 fish permitted for each additional member of the household, and a boat will quickly run out of freeboard. Throw in some wind and waves generated by the changing tide or the wake of another boat, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Boaters can learn more by taking a safety course. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Office of Boating Safety offers the Alaska Water Wise program, as well as a number of other resources, including a cold water boating handbook with a supplement for the Kenai River. The local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary also offers a variety of workshops on boating and boating safety, in addition to conducting vessel safety checks.

When it comes down to it, boating safely is a decision, and the best decisions are made based on knowledge and experience. We’re glad to see more boaters deciding to wear life jackets, and we hope more people take advantage of opportunities to expand their boating knowledge.

More in Opinion

teaser
Opinion: The mobs widening America’s divisions

We’ve just been forced to deal with stark disagreements on a daily basis like never before.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Now is not the time to leave Alaskans out in the cold

Now is the perfect time for legislators to get in touch with their constituents and to act in their best interests.

New direction for the Tongass will help grow businesses, a sustainable economy

Now is the time to chart a new course for Southeast’s future.

Anselm Staack (Courtesy Photo)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s fiscally irresponsible and deceptive plan

Constitutions are about broad policy objectives and legal boundaries — not about the day-to-day.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.