Celebrate With These Safe Boating Tips
South Carolina is known for its beautiful beaches, perfect for swimming and boating. Our lush coastline also makes our state home to several Coast Guard installations, including a new “superbase” planned in Charleston near several existing United States Coast Guard sites.
Read up on the history of the Coast Guard below and learn how you can show your appreciation for this maritime-focused branch of the U.S. military on National Coast Guard Day.
What is the Coast Guard?
The Coast Guard was originally founded on August 4, 1790, by then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (who’s face decorates the $10 bill) as a maritime law enforcement agency, making it the longest continuous seagoing service in the United States. But the modern incarnation as we know it today was created in 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson tasked the agency with new life-saving responsibilities as well.
The Coast Guard employs and trains active duty, reserve, and volunteer members, and is responsible for defending over 100,000 miles of coastline and inland waterways across the United States.
On average, the Coast Guard operates as many as 109 search-and-rescue operations every day. They are also responsible for oil spill response, preventing drug and human trafficking, and even monitoring the location of icebergs between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans to prevent collisions with ships.
What Should You Do On National Coast Guard Day?
You can show your appreciation for the Coast Guard using the hashtag #NationalCoastGuardDay on social media or by sending a message to a Coast Guard member through the Coast Guard Foundation website.
However, the best way to show your appreciation for our Coast Guard members is by always practicing safe boating habits every time you are on the water. These include:
- Take a boating safety course
- Get a free vessel safety check
- Learn South Carolina’s boating laws
- Educate yourself on navigation, markers, and marine right of water
- Never operate a boat after consuming alcohol
- Limit your boating to daylight hours in clear weather
- Always wear a properly fitted life vest when on the water
How to Contact the Coast Guard in a Boating Emergency
If you find yourself in an emergency and in need of rescue and have cellular connection, the Coast Guard can be reached by phone by dialing 911 as you would for any other emergency. If you are out of reach of cell service, the Coast Guard can also be reached by radio. Here’s how:
- Tune your boat’s radio to Channel 16 VHF-FM (156.8 MHz).
- Holding down the transmit button, clearly say “MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY” and provide your boat’s name and description, your location, the nature of your emergency, and the number of people on board.
- After releasing the transmit button, wait 10 seconds. If there is no response, repeat the call.
After a Boating Accident
Boating accidents are chaotic and frightening, especially if a rescue by the Coast Guard is required. But in the hours, days, and weeks after an accident, it is important to take appropriate steps to stay within the law and protect your rights.
Accidents must be reported to the authorities if anyone is injured, killed, or goes missing, and if the boat is destroyed or sustains more than $2,000 worth of damage. Furthermore, if you intend to file a compensation claim for any injuries suffered, the statute of limitations (referring to the legal time frame) to do so in South Carolina is typically three years from the day of the injury.
If your accident was caused by a negligent boat operator, whether they failed to use navigation lights while boating between sunset and sunrise, drove too fast for the conditions, or drove under the influence of alcohol, they can and should be held responsible for the injuries they caused.