Boaters to set flares off
Most boaters have never had a dire emergency at sea, which means that most boaters have also never had to operate their emergency signaling equipment. But as Debbie Morley, manager of Blaine’s West Marine Express store, said recently, “an emergency is not a good time to be reading the directions on the back of your package of flares.”
To address this, Morley’s store in collaboration with Blaine’s Flotilla 19 of the Coast Guard Auxiliary is sponsoring the second annual flare shoot-off this Saturday in Marine Park. Boaters are encouraged to bring their old flares to the event to shoot them off as a way of safely disposing of them.
Those unable to attend but who plan to replace their flares this year are encouraged to bring them in to West Marine Express before Saturday’s event to let people who don’t have any participate. Morley said she expects to go through about $250 worth of flares, a cost her own store will absorb. “There’s a lot of variety with flares, so the more different kinds we have the better people will learn about what they need and how to shoot them off,” Morley said.
The event begins at 2 p.m. with a brief orientation followed by demonstrations of different kinds of flares, first on dry land and then off the back of Mike and Carol Myers’ 38 MiCa cruiser that will be a half mile or so away, manned by personnel from Flotilla 19.
“That’s the ‘what’ part of the demonstration,” Morley said, “followed by the ‘how’ part when people can then shoot off their own flares.” She also said that the demonstration will show graphically why there are times when flares that simply burn won’t help as much as orange smoke, and vice versa.
“It’s all about safety,” Morley concluded, “and having resources when a dire situation arises, like during a medical emergency or when your boat’s drifting toward the rocks with a dead engine.”
Morley knows what she’s talking about, having thousands of miles of blue water, or open ocean, sailing under her belt. “We have a lot of long distance sailors based here,” she said, “so it’s really exciting to see the boating community developing like this.”