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Boating over “the bar?” Harrowing account of a Columbia River tragedy

FISHING — "Even as a retired cop, Lonn Sweeney didn't expect to save anyone's life June 20 when he piloted his 24-foot Duckworth ocean hardtop, Teresa D, over the Columbia River bar, but he was certainly prepared for it," writes Oregon outdoor scribe Bill Monroe in a story of tragedy and lessons learned.

  • The story is a must-read for anyone planning to pilot a a fishing boat over the infamous rough water caused by the surge of the Columbia River meeting the tides of the Pacific Ocean.

"And at least some of the five survivors from a capsizing on the world's trademark-for-treachery ocean crossing owe their lives to his caution – a lesson learned on the cusp of a predicted stellar coastwide ocean salmon season and record run past Buoy 10," Monroe reported.

Lt. Scott McGrew, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard station at Cape Disappointment, said the accident is under investigation. He credited Sweeney and his crew with saving lives before his 47-footers could get to the scene.

Boating course satisfies Washington requirement

BOATING — The America's Boating Course, which satisfies Washington's boater safety education requirement, will be offered next weekend (Oct. 12-13) by the Spokane Sail & Power Squadron at the Post Falls Cabela's store.

The eight-hour course will be taught in two sessions starting at 10 a.m. each day.

Cost: $48 or $73 for two people from the same household sharing the course manual and materials.

Info: (208) 777-0228.

Were you born after Dec. 31, 1962?

Washington law requires anyone 50 years old or  younger to complete an approved course and have a boater safety education card in order to operate a powerboat with a motor of 15 hp or greater.

In 2014, the requirement will extend to boaters age 59 and younger.

Inner tubes are vessels; life vests required

BOATING — Sheriff's deputies and Fish and Wildlife Police across Washington are reminding summer funseekers that they can be nailed with an $87 fine for boating or floating without a lifejacket on rivers, and that includes inner tubing.

Most people don't know that people on inner tubes are required to have a personal flotation device (PFD) with them when traveling down river.

The law requires all vessels in the state to have PFDs for everyone on board, and the law defines "vessels" as any watercraft being used for transportation.

Some judges agree with his interpretation and some don't, so some people have successfully fought his citations in court.

But officers say they go by the letter of the law and the intent to prevent tragedies.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/07/05/2666594/87-fine-for-forgoing-life-jackets.html#storylink=cpy

Three simple boating safety tips get to core hazards

BOATING — Following are boating safety tips based on the 30 years the Marine Insurance damage avoidance publication Seaworthy has combed through the BoatUS claims files to shed light on how boats are damaged and how boaters are injured, and to suggest research-based solutions to keep it’s readers from becoming a statistic. 

  1. Wiring faults are the No. 1 cause of boat fires.  DC wiring problems lead the pack in causes of boat fires, with shore power faults a close second. Every boater needs to make maintaining their boat’s electrical system a priority.
  2. Swimming in a marina is a leading cause of boating-related accidents. It's not just the potential for being over. Nearly a decade ago, Seaworthy first reported on “electric shock drowning” (ESD) in which leaking 110-volt electrical current was taking the lives of young swimmers in fresh water. The difficulty in distinguishing ESD from drowning kept the problem from being well understood or publicized until recently.
  3. Ethanol and boats don’t mix (very well): After BoatUS members in the Northeast began to complain of mysterious catastrophic engine failures and myriad fuel system problems such as rotted fuel lines, gunked carburetors and fuel tanks nearly a decade ago, investigations shed light on an issue.  Reseach the issue for your own boat use.

Boating safety course fills Washington requirement

BOATING — Starting this year, all Washington residents age 50 and under must complete an approved boating safety course in order to operate water craft of 15 horsepower or more.

The Spokane Sail and Power Squadron is teaching an 8-hour ABC 3 boating safety course that satisfies the requirements June 8-9 at Cabela’s in Post Falls.

Materials for the course can be picked up in advance in Spokane at West Marine, 5306 E Sprague Ave.

Info: Bill Asbell, (208) 777-0220.

Lawsuit filed in 2012 student kayaking death on Rock Lake

WATER SPORTS — A city parks instructor manual appears to ban city-sponsored kayak trips in the kind of weather that led to a chaotic and deadly excursion organized by Gonzaga University and sponsored by the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department, according to a lawsuit filed Monday. 

Christopher Gormley, 18, died from hypothermia after his kayak tipped in the frigid waters of Rock Lake on a notably windy day during the spring break trip on April 1, 2012.

Boat Show has deal for getting mandatory boater safety card

BOATING — Starting this year, you'll need a boater safety education card in your pocket if you're a state resident age 50 or younger and you plan to drive most powerboats in Washington.

The Spokane National Boat Show, Feb. 1-9 at Spokane County Fair and Expo Center is offering a special deal to help families meet the state requirements.

  • Register in advance for a boater education course to be held at the Expo Center and you'll get free admission to the show. 

The Spokane Sail and Power Squadron is again teaching the ABC 3 course at the boat show. This year the state of Washington requires people 50 and under, operating water craft of 15hp or more, to have attended a certified 8-hour boating safety course.  

A certified course can be taken online on the Washington State Parks website, but you'll get a lot more out of the personal attention and materials you'll get at the boat show course, with sessions set for Feb. 4 through Feb. 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

  • Preregister through Feb. 1 at West Marin, 5306 E. Sprague Ave. or at the squadron's clubhouse, 929 W. Jackson Ave.
  • Info: (208) 777-0220

This will be the 58th annual National Boat Show in Spokane, and at least four guides or tournament fishermen are scheduled to present fishing seminars.

Boating safety course offered at Northtown

BOATING — A boating safety class that satisfies Washington’s driver certification requirements will be offered at the Northtown Mall 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday next week (May 21-24) in honor of National Safe Boating Week.

The eight-hour course will be taught by the Spokane Sail and Power Squadron.

  • Preregister: 328-6165.

Any Washington resident age 40 or younger must have a Washington boater safety certificate to operate a vessel in state waters. Next year the requirement will extend to age 50.

Milestone: 100,000 boaters complete safety course

BOATING — The Washington State Boating Program reached a milestone in its mandatory boater education program last week, issuing card number 100,000.

David Eckols of Seattle won tickets to a Seattle Seahawks game for being the 100,000th boater card recipient.

See my recent column pointing out that since January, all Washington powerboat drivers age 40 and and younger must  have a boater education card to operate a boat powered by a 15 horsepower motor or larger.

Last year, the Boating Programs recorded 17 boating fatalities, the lowest number in 10 years. According to Washington State Parks Director, Don Hoch, educated boaters are less likely to be involved in boating accidents than non-educated boaters.

“Since the program started in 2008 we have had an outstanding compliance rate,” says Hoch. “The great news is that we are starting to see a reduction in boating fatalities, property damage and injuries. We hope this trend continues.”

Read on for more details about Washington boater education requirement.

Spokane Boat Show has (safety) class

BOATING — Get more bang for your buck by multitasking at the Spokane National Boat Show, which opens Friday and runs through Feb. 6 at Spokane Interstate Fair and Expo Center.

The eight-hour America’s Boating Course, which satisfies Washington’s mandatory boater education requirements, will be offered during the show in two-hour segments on four consecutive days Monday-Thursday, starting at 5:30 p.m.

The classes will be taught by the Spokane Sail & Power Squadron. Cost: $48 or $40 for youths under 18.

Preregister to get free admission to the boat show. If you register at the show, you’ll have to  pay the first-day’s admission but will get in free the remaining days.

Contact: Jim Roeber, 328-6165 or the Power Squadrons club house, 929 W. Jackson Ave.

Washington's boating safety requirement schedule

Following is the phase-in schedule for Washington's requirement that boat operators carry a card showing they have passed a certified boater safety course.

Year  / Age group
2011 / 35 years and younger
2012 / 40 years and younger
2013 / 50 years and younger
2014 / 59 years and younger

After 2014, requirement applies to any boater born after Dec. 31, 1954.