Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Letters to the Editor

February 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Letter #1

Dear Editor,

Why join the Coast Guard Auxiliary? The question really should be why not. After all, this all-volunteer, non-military counterpart of the Coast Guard offers boating thrills; opportunities to stretch your maritime skills in areas like coastal navigation, weather, GPS and boat safety; the satisfaction of serving the public, social fellowship among like-minded neighbors and yes, some great parties.

The Auxiliary is in the business of making us all better sailors through courses in basic boating and safety skills. New York State thinks this is so important that as of May 1, 2014 all residents 18-years-old or younger who want to operate a powerboat must pass an eight-hour safety course, as must all personal watercraft operators. The Auxiliary offers “America’s Boating Course” year round in many communities in the tri-state region. You don’t have to be a member to take the course but Auxiliarists pay less. Note too that for PWC operators on-line safety courses are not recognized by the state.

There’s more to the Auxiliary than education. It’s a hands-on experience both on the water and in the air with its mission of search and rescue. Using their own boats with trained Auxiliary crews, members are out there every weekend watching over sailboat races, kayak regattas, long distance swims and triathlon events; a crew might give a tow to an out-of-commission boat. There’s even an air wing, where members use their own planes to play a big role in winter ice patrol. Membership also impacts your wallet; marine insurers often give discounts as do boating stores, and you can join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union (its cash card currently discounts gas).

Is there also personal satisfaction? You bet. It feels good to share your skills with newcomers, teaching the difference between altocumulus and stratocumulus clouds, and making sure boats have required safety gear aboard during free vessel safety checks at local marinas. A sense of patriotism also runs through every boat crew. Though the Auxiliary has no police powers, it takes pride in providing an extra set of eyes to the Coast Guard, protecting New York waters against terrorism (the Auxiliary assists in closing down the East River when opening sessions of the United Nations bring in heads of state).

We’re a social crowd too. Like-minded men and women forge new friendships during picnics and BBQs at local Coast Guard stations, visits to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, and sailing on the famed barque Eagle— life doesn’t get any better than that!

The uniforms are also pretty snazzy, so do yourself a favor and go online to and click on Membership to find a unit near you.

William C. Winslow

ODW 2013 Results Operation Dry Water

Letter #2

Dear Editor:

Operation Dry Water, the nation’s annual boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign, has shown a significant impact in addressing the issue of drunk boating. Across the country, 6,219 law enforcement officers from 513 local, state and federal agencies joined forces for this year’s Operation Dry Water Campaign.

Launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, Operation Dry Water is aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities and to foster a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water. The campaign is having the desired effect, as law enforcement officers made 290 BUI arrests during the three-day boating under the influence (BUI) enforcement period, June 28-30, 2013. Officers from participating agencies made contact with more than 140,000 boaters as part of a national effort to heighten the public’s awareness of the dangers of drinking while boating.

“Drunk boating and boating under the influence is more than a careless choice made by a few isolated boaters. Adults and children are killed every year in accidents on the water caused by boaters who were operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” said John Fetterman, Operation Dry Water spokesperson and director of law enforcement for NASBLA. “Thank you to all the law enforcement personnel whose hard work and dedication continue to keep our nation’s boaters and waterways safe.”

Alcohol continues to be the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths in the United States. Since the launch of Operation Dry Water in 2009, the amount of boating fatalities with alcohol named as a contributing factor has decreased from 19 percent to 17 percent in the United States (2012 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics).navigator photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

For more information on this annual awareness and enforcement campaign, visit the Operation Dry Water Campaign website at

Hannah Helsby
Project Associate, NASBLA

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