Last week we reviewed the Coast Guard's on-water missions for Clarks Hill Lake and how volunteers are needed to provide crews and boats. This week we will examine many other Coast Guard missions in the area.
Boater education is a subject in great upheaval throughout the country. There is proof positive that education bearing on boater safety has a dramatic affect on safety. Most boating safety funding is provided by the federal boat gas tax and is passed on to the individual states for implementation. While each state has its own program, they all adhere to guidelines established by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators.
Boating education is moving toward mandatory status. Some states already require a level of education before a boater can operate a boat. Many others are moving in that direction.
In addition, various other organizations, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, conduct boating safety classes. In this area, we conduct a one-day course, "About Boating Safety," once a month from March through September. At various times during the year, we also conduct a GPS class and more advanced boating classes, such as navigation and communications.
These classes are conducted in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and classes are held at their visitors center at the dam. If you are a boater and like to teach, this is a very satisfying experience.
Another boating safety service provided by the auxiliary is the Vessel Safety Check program. We inspect boats, with the owner's permission, to make sure it meets the minimum federal and state equipment requirements.
The Coast Guard has its own fleet of aircraft, ranging from helicopters to Falcon jets. These aircraft respond to Search and Rescue alerts mostly on the coast and high seas.
In addition, the Coast Guard has authorized its auxiliary to use members' personal aircraft for patrol work, logistics support and VIP transportation (in August we had an admiral aboard). The Coast Guard reimburses fuel, meals and provides a maintenance payment.
We are looking for an instrument-rated pilot with a four-place single-engine aircraft to volunteer for these missions. Coast Guard Air Station Savannah is the controlling command for this activity, although the volunteer's aircraft will remain stationed at its present location.
In addition, we will need a co-pilot and crew members. The co-pilot can be any current pilot. While crew members with aviation experience helps, we will train crew members without experience to become radio operators and observers.
Finally, the auxiliary, along with the Corps of Engineers, the United States Power Squadrons, county emergency management services and state departments of natural resources are in the process of establishing a marine radio net for Clarks Hill Lake.
Once the net is operational (before next April), we will need radio watch standers to operate the radios and alert the appropriate authority to launch search and rescue operations.
If you have any interest in these activities, please contact me to learn more.
John L. VanOsdol is commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, CSRA Flotilla. He can be reached at (864) 391-2170, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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