Vessel safety checks are free this weekend

A fishermen shows Coast Guard inspectors the life jackets on his power troller in 2015. (Juneau Empire file)

A fishermen shows Coast Guard inspectors the life jackets on his power troller in 2015. (Juneau Empire file)

Own a skiff, dinghy, catamaran, sloop, longboat, cruiser, cuddy, coracle or DIY duct-taped inflatable? Whatever type of watercraft — and Juneauites have many — the U.S. Coast Guard wants to help keep it and its passengers safe.

This weekend, the USCG will inspect recreational and commercial fishing boats for free at an open house Saturday and Sunday. From 11 a.m.-3 p.m. each day, vessel owners can bring their boats by for a free vessel safety inspection. Coast Guard Sector Juneau commercial fishing vessel examiners and Coast Guard Auxiliary recreational vessel safety examiners will answer boating questions and provide complimentary vessel safety checks, as well as answer questions about Coast Guard operations.

State and federal law requires boaters have certain safety equipment on board depending on the type of boat and the time and place they’re boating, said USCG recreational boating safety specialist Mike Folkert. One thing stays the same: all recreational boats must have properly-fitted, serviceable life jackets for each passenger, Folkert said. Kids under 13 must wear life jackets while on an open deck. A full list of requirements can be found at doa.alaska.gov and in the Alaska Boater’s Handbook.

Voluntary recreational vessel checks are non-punitive, Folkert explained, and conducted by citizen volunteers. The idea is that boat owners have a chance to learn how they can bring their boats into compliance before they get out on the water. The Coast Guard could levy a fine to a boater who isn’t following the rules; voluntary checks are a way to avoid that.

Those who undergo voluntary checks receive a sticker they can put on their vessels, Folkert said. The USCG is more often more lenient when inspecting vessels that have the sticker.

A sticker, “Doesn’t mean you won’t be stopped by the Coast Guard, but if the Coast Guard is out there and doing inspections, they could go to the next guy,” when they see a sticker, Folkert said.

Recreational boating fatalities have declined on a long-term trend since 2002, Folkert said. Seven boaters died in Alaska in 2015 and 16 died in 2016, the last two years for which statistics are available.

Folkert linked the trend to the passage of the Safe Boating Act in 2002. Alaska was the last state or territory to pass the act, Folkert said.

If you have any questions about the event ahead of time, please contact Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Klosterman at 907-463-2365.


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 8

Here’s what to expect this week.

Bill Thomas, a former Republican state representative from Haines, announced Friday he is dropping out of the race for the District 3 House seat this fall. (U.S. Sustainability Alliance photo)
Bill Thomas drops out of District 3 House race, says there isn’t time for fishing and campaigning

Haines Republican cites rough start to commercial season; incumbent Andi Story now unopposed.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks at the Alaska Democratic Party’s state convention on May 18 at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Peltola among few Democrats to vote for annual defense bill loaded with GOP ‘culture war’ amendments

Alaska congresswoman expresses confidence “poison pills” will be removed from final legislation.

A celebratory sign stands outside Goldbelt Inc.’s new building during the Alaska Native Regional Corporation’s 50th-anniversary celebration on Jan. 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Medical company sues Goldbelt for at least $30M in contract dispute involving COVID-19 vaccine needles

Company says it was stuck with massive stock of useless needles due to improper specs from Goldbelt.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A yearling black bear waits for its mother to return. Most likely she won’t. This time of year juvenile bears are separated, sometimes forcibly, by their mothers as families break up during mating season. (Photo courtesy K. McGuire)
Bearing witness: Young bears get the boot from mom

With mating season for adults underway, juveniles seek out easy food sources in neighborhoods.

A chart shows COVID-19 pathogen levels at the Mendenhall wastewater treatment plant during the past three months. (Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Wastewater Surveillance System)
Juneau seeing another increase in COVID-19 cases, but a scarcity of self-test kits

SEARHC, Juneau Drug have limited kits; other locations expect more by Saturday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to reporters during a news conference Feb. 7. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy picks second ex-talk radio host for lucrative fish job after first rejected

Rick Green will serve at least through Legislature’s next confirmation votes in the spring of 2025.

A used gondola being installed at Eaglecrest Ski Area may not begin operating until 2027, according to Goldbelt Inc. President and CEO McHugh Pierre, whose company is providing $10 million for installation costs. (Eaglecrest Ski Area photo)
Eaglecrest Ski Area gondola may not open until 2027 due to CBJ delays, Goldbelt CEO says

Agreement with city allows Goldbelt to nix $10M deal if gondola doesn’t open by May 31, 2028.

Most Read