Local flotilla to conduct tests
By Meg Olson
U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary is building up enough of a local
membership to start a local flotilla. Were operating
now as a detachment of the Bellingham flotilla, said
vice-commodore Larry Larson. We have 35 local members
now and have a new Blaine flotilla coming together.
Local auxiliary members are already offering boating safety classes and free vessel safety checks at Blaine harbor.
A three-week boating safety and seamanship class is already underway at the harbor office and Larson said they are taking appointments for vessel safety checks.
We try and make it a pleasant learning opportunity, Larson said of the free checks. A coast guard vessel examination is more of a consultation than a test. The examiner and the boat owner go through a checklist of recommended safety gear and practices and boats that make the grade get a special safety decal. Boats who need to make improvements are given a list of suggestions, but are not held to them. Were looking for things on the vessel that make it safe and enjoyable for everyone, Larson said. Theres a whole litany of things we look at: enough personal floatation devices, fire extinguishers, navigation lights.
Coast guard auxiliary members also patrol local waters in their own coast guard certified boats. Were out there to be helpful, look out for people in trouble and watch out for safety, Larson said. He added that extra eyes on Boundary Bay were an important component of increased border security. Since September 11 we think its important for there to be a presence on the water, he said. He added auxiliary members did not need to be boat owners.
Anyone interested in joining the auxiliary, taking a class or having a vessel check can call Larson at 371-4007 or Hoyt Hatfield at 371-3310.