|A close-up of one of the signs that were displayed.
Aug 31, 2011 - Spurred by four fatalities in boating accidents in St. Bernard Parish this year, Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann and officials of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department began placing safety signs at parish public boat launches on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
Pohlmann said, “These will be reminders to boaters of basic laws involving boating safety, such as children 16 and under are required to wear life jackets for their protection and boaters should follow the rules of navigation including stay to the right, slow down in turns and maintain a safe speed and distance.’’
“We want to do something to focus boaters’ attention on remembering safety just before they set out on the water,’’ Pohlmann said. “We hope to help keep people safe.’’
Four persons have been killed in boating accidents in St. Bernard Parish in 2011.
Samanta Vinturella, 12, of Mandeville, was killed in a boating accident on July 16 near Shell Beach.
Donald Neal, 66, of eastern St. Bernard Parish, was killed in a boating accident at Hopedale on June 16.
Alvin Anderson, 63, of New Orleans and his brother, Mark Anderson, 53, of New Orleans, both died in a boating accident on Lake Borgne on March 19.
Placed at boat launches in St. Bernard were bright blue signs with an image of a life jacket and bearing messages including “Keep a Shark Lookout,’’ “Practice Good Seamansip’’ and “Maintain a Safe Speed and Distance.’’
The project was undertaken by the Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Wildlife and Fisheries has also been passing out brochures recently at the marinas which go over rules of navigation on waterways.
Pohlmann, Sheriff’s Marine Division Commander Capt. Brian Clark and Lt. Scot Keller, who supervises St. Bernard and Plaquemines parish operations for Wildlife and Fisheries, oversaw placement of the signs.
Standing at Campo’s Marin a at Shell Beach, Pohlmann and Keller said they felt it important to try to focus boaters’ attention on safety as they launch their crafts.
“When boaters go out we want them to see something that asks them to remember the rules of safety,’’ Pohlmann said.
Keller said, “This is to remind them to buckle up their life jackets and keep in mind boating safety in general.’’
In Louisiana, every person 16 years or younger on board a motorboat or vessel less than 26 feet in length is required to wear a U. S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) while that motorboat or vessel is underway.
Anyone can get tips on boating safety at Safeboat.com or from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries web site.
Mandatory Boating Education
All persons born after Jan. 1, 1984, must complete a boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower. A person may operate the boat if accompanied by someone over 18 years of age who if required has completed the course.
Boating Safety Classes
LDWF offers a free boating class that lasts between 6 and 8 hours that is usually completed in a day. For information on boating safety classes and when and where they are scheduled, call (504) 284-2023 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or go to the web site.
The course includes information on choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal requirements and equipment requirements, many navigation rules, navigation charts, trailering, sailboats, and related subjects that include canoeing, personal watercraft and more. Upon completion of the course the student is issued a vessel operators certification card.
Boating classes with LDWF are offered year-round but are most popular in the spring and summer. These classes are offered free of charge to the public.
Boating Education Online
If a classroom course is not a convenient option, a student may take the state-approved online boating course provided by BoatUS.org or Boat-Ed.com. These courses are not administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, but they are approved by the state to satisfy boating education requirements. The BoatUS.org course is free, while there is a fee for the online course charged by Boat-Ed. Upon successful completion the student is provided a temporary certificate from the website.
RULES OF THE ROAD FOR VESSELS
The following regulations shall dictate the operation of vessels upon the waters of the state and shall set forth a standard of operation. The Rules of the Road for vessels upon the waters in the state shall be as follows:
1. Vessels passing head-on shall each keep to their respective right.
2. A vessel overtaking another vessel may do so on either side, but must grant the right-of-way to the vessel being overtaken.
3. When vessels are passing at right angles, the vessel on the left will yield right-of-way to vessel on the right.
4. Motorboats shall yield right-of-way to non-motor powered boats except as follows:
a. When being overtaken by non-powered vessels.
b. For deep draft vessels that have to remain in narrow channels.
c. When vessel is towing another vessel.
5. Motorboats must maintain a direct course when passing sailboats.
6. A vessel approaching a landing dock or pier shall yield the right-of-way to any departing vessel.
7. A vessel departing shoreline or tributary shall yield right-of-way to through traffic and vessels approaching shoreline or tributary.
8. Vessels will not abruptly change course without first determining that it can be safely done without risk of collision with another vessel.
9. If an operator fails to fully comprehend the course of an approaching vessel he must slow down immediately to a speed barely sufficient for steerageway until the other vessel has passed.
10. Vessels yielding right-of-way shall reduce speed, stop, reverse, or alter course to avoid collision. Vessel with right-of-way shall hold course and speed. If there is danger of collision, all vessels will slow down, stop, or reverse until danger is averted.
11. Vessels will issue warning signals in fog or weather conditions that restrict visibility.
12. No mechanically propelled vessel shall be operated so as to traverse a course around any other vessel underway or any person swimming.
13. In a narrow channel, vessels will keep to the right of mid-channel.
14. Vessels approaching or passing another vessel shall be operated in such manner and at such a rate of speed as will not create a hazardous wash or wake.
15. No vessel shall obstruct or interfere with take-off, landing, or taxiing of aircraft.
16. All vessels shall be operated at reasonable speeds for given conditions and situations and must be under the complete control of the operator at all times.
17. No person shall operate a vessel in excess of an established speed or wake zone.
18. No vessel or person shall obstruct or block a navigation channel, entrance to channel, mooring slip, landing dock, launching ramp, pier or tributary.
19. Vessels shall keep at least 100 feet clearance of displayed diver's flag.
Safety tips before going on the water:
Make sure everyone on board has a life jacket and have an extra one as a throw jacket.
If people on a boat will be having any alcohol drinks there should always be a “sober skipper’’ designated, meaning the person driving a motor vessel.
Run through a checklist before taking off: Have a float plan. Tell one or more people where you intend to be going on water and when you should be back.
Have a working radio to check on weather updates and carry a charged cell phone and extra clothing if you get wet and in winter carry blankets in case you get stranded.
Have a horn capable of a 4-second blast. If using a portable horn make sure it is in working condition.
Make sure navigation lights are working. Check instruments lights and see that all mounts on board are secure.
Have a working flashlight on board, as well as a basic tool box and some spare parts for the boat on board.
Carry a fire exinguisher and accessible flares or day signals in a dry location.