JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard is making sure vessel operators stay safe on the water with vessel checks.
Maciej Kalina owns Kayak St. Augustine. On Saturday, he brought several kayaks to the Vilano Landing boat ramp where the U.S. Coast Guard performed vessel safety checks.
“Probably our biggest mission is making sure everyone is aware of our environment around here and keep it safe as well as sharing the happiness of going out on the water,” said Kalina.
The Coast Guard offered the safety checks ahead of National Safe Boating Week. Officials say they are making sure boaters meet new law requirements, like having an emergency cut-off switch. The switch is built into certain boats under 26 feet that are made after April 2021. Boats made before that are required to add the switch.
“It’s a switch that is mounted either on the tiller, on the boats that don’t have a steering wheel, or it’s mounted at the console where you operate the vessel. When it’s connected to the lanyard and you are drawn away from that operating position for any reason, it shuts off the engine,” said Coast Guard Public Affairs Flotilla Staff Officer Henry Seieden.
Another recommendation is a personal locator beacon.
“A personal locator beacon is a device you can wear on your lifejacket or on your clothing that when it touches the water, it sets off an alarm to the Coast Guard and indicates that there is someone suddenly in the water,” said Seieden.
Once operators pass the inspection, they get a vessel safety check sticker that is good for a year.
“Everything checked out alright,” Kalina said. ”That makes me happy because that means my hard work, making sure they stay healthy, has paid off.”
Kalina said he is glad his customers will be safe with his kayaks.
To learn more about safety regulations and vessel safety inspections and courses, go to ve.mysafeboating.com.