Galen Johnson, commander of Flotilla 74 Brandon of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary encourages boating safety classes.

By George Papabeis

All boaters are encouraged to have a safe and enjoyable boating season. Flotilla 74, Brandon of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary encourages all boaters to have a safe and enjoyable 2019 summer boating season.

Two boating safety classes taught by Galen Johnson, a USCG Master Licensed Captain and coxswain and commander of Flotilla 74 Brandon of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, are offered locally.

A one-day class is offered on the second Saturday of each month. A more comprehensive 13-week course on Boating Skills and Seamanship is offered on a rotating basis every Monday. When completing one of the courses, you will receive a ‘Safe Boaters ID Card,’ which is a requirement for anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, who will be operating a boat in Florida waters with an engine of 10 horsepower or more.

Johnson said, “Safe boating is fun boating. Any time you take a vessel on the water you must be predictable. The only way to achieve this is training in safe boating practices.”

The Flotilla has resources available to serve and assist boaters.

Certified Vessel Examiners are available to look your vessel over to make sure that your vessel meets Federal and State safety requirements. Upon passing, your vessel will receive a 2019 VSC (Vessel Safety Check) sticker.

Life Jackets – Vessels 16 ft. or longer must have one ‘throwable’ Type IV PFD (Personal Flotation Device) that is USCG approved and immediately available. Florida law states that children under 6 years old must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times on any vessel less than 26 ft. in length that is underway in Florida waters. Federal law states children under 13 must wear an appropriate Coast Guard-approved PFD, unless they are below decks or in an enclosed cabin.

It is dangerous and illegal to operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. Have a designated operator for your vessel who will not drink during your outing. Consider limiting alcohol consumption of passengers on the vessel for their safety.

The U.S. Coast Guard Safe Boating app includes state boating information; safety equipment checklist; free boating safety check requests; navigation rules; float plans and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity and much more. Visit https://uscgboating.org/mobile for all of its features.

For information on Flotilla 74, call 644-2894 or visit www.uscgboating.org or https://myfwc.com/boating/safetyeducation for boating safety.