NWWB Note: Coast Guard Plea to Paddle Craft Owners

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard and its Washington and Oregon boating safety agency partners urge the labeling of paddle craft and owner responsibility on the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Reports of unmanned and adrift paddle craft divert federal, state and local response boat and air crews on hundreds of dangerous and costly searches that turn out to be false alarms. Since 2016, 13th Coast Guard District aircraft and vessels have launched on 746 individual cases of vessel reported capsized and adrift.

All were unmanned and adrift, not resulting in an actual distress. Each case represents a minimum cost of approximately $40,000 to the taxpayers to respond and conduct searches for possible persons in the water. For the 13th District, this accounts for an operational cost of approximately $29,840,000.00. 

The Coast Guard treats every distress call and report of an unmanned paddle craft as if a real life is at stake.

“Unmanned adrift vessel search and rescue responses are the No. 4 response activity in the Coast Guard nationwide,” said Dan Shipman, recreational boating program specialist for the 13th District. “By properly securing your small craft, on the beach, dock or your vessel from being set adrift, you’re not only saving taxpayers’ dollars, you are helping protect your property, the environment and possibly the life of someone who is actually in need of  assistance.”

The Coast Guard urges the public to do the following three things:

Help us help you find your kayak. Mark It!  Take responsibility for your paddle craft by labeling with an ‘If Found’ sticker. This label allows responders to confirm if someone is actually in trouble and collect information to help search efforts.

Take responsibility for recovering your paddle craft. Unmanned and adrift kayaks, canoes, dinghies and rowboats often cause hazards to navigation in the waterway and increase the level of risk and fatigue on response crews tasked to find the owners associated with the unmanned paddle craft.

Do your part to prevent false alarms. First responders deployed in search of unmanned paddle craft divert resources away from actual lives in distress.

For more information on paddle craft labeling, contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary and visit iffoundsticker@d13cgaux.net  to get free “If Found” stickers to help label your paddle craft.

To get a free vessel safety check – “I want a vessel safety check”- go to http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=V-DEPT&category=i-want-a-vsc.

Let’s pull together to paddle smart and paddle responsibly. 

Public Service Announcement – “Stop the search. Mark It!” – Washington-area radio stations:https://www.dvidshub.net/audio/64603/paddle-smart-psa-stop-search-mark-seattle-radio-stations

Public Service Announcement – Stop the search. Mark It!” – Oregon-area radio stations:https://www.dvidshub.net/audio/64604/paddle-smart-psa-stop-search-mark-oregon-radio-stations


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NWWB ZOOM Meeting: Mon. Nov. 16th 7pm Cruising in Tahiti: 3 boats, 4 islands and 24 women on the adventure of a lifetime! Presenter: Carolyn “Ace” Spragg

If you haven’t received the ZOOM Link for Monday night’s program (Nov. 15th) email nwwbviv@gmail.com

Northwest Women in Boating is so pleased to have “Ace” Spragg as our presenter. Since moving to Port Townsend we’ve missed her, but we are happy she followed her dreams. She was an early “cheer leader” and supporter of this organization, always enthusiastic and encouraging. (ZOOM link to be sent in a separate email. If you haven’t received it by Sun. Nov. 15th, email nwwbviv@gmail.com and request it.)

In Ace’s words…

“In 2016 I had the great good fortune to be a captain on a 2 week charter sail in Tahiti with a group of women sailors recruited by Nancy Erley.  It was Nancy’s dream to share one of her favorite places in the world (after 2 circumnavigations) with her many friends.  Learn what it’s like to group charter a vessel in unfamiliar waters surrounded by beautiful islands and a warm and  welcoming culture.  I’ll share some of the cruising lessons learned, as well as the ins and outs of group dynamics and cultural exchanges.”  

About Ace…

Carolyn “Ace” Spragg grew up on the Chesapeake Bay, messing about in boats. She built her first raft at age 6, learned to sail at age 8, and has spent more than 35 years teaching on the water. She taught swimming, sailing, canoeing, and waterskiing at summer camps back east, and was the Waterfront Director and Program Director at Camp Wayne for 15 years.

After moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2000, she started teaching sailing and cruising skills on her Yorktown 39, S/V Fraid Knot, which she lived aboard for 15 years. Ace has her USCG 50-ton Master’s License, International Sail and Power Association Yachtmaster Offshore teaching certification, US Sailing teaching certification, and is a US Maritime Academy Captain’s License Instructor. In 2006 she skippered her boat to Hawaii and back with all-women crews.


(Note – We’ve been so pleased with the ZOOM environment for our meetings and thank our facilitators. Gals from outside the area are able to participate, plus questions and interaction have worked well. These evenings are offering very pleasant escapes into what we love – and, this one, to places far away from the current concerns and stresses. Don’t hesitate to invite gals from ‘anywhere’ who would enjoy our programs.)

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NWWB Meeting Oct. 19, Look for ZOOM log-in in your email inbox…Tackling Life Changes and Challenges Toward a Dream of Adventure Cruising Aboard the M/V David B” with Chef, Naturalist and Author Christine Smith

The ZOOM link should be in your email inbox, a second one will arrive today, if you haven’t received it and want to attend, send an email request to nwwbviv@gmail.com before noon on Monday. You can start signing in at 6:45 the meeting starts at 7pm. (Note: If you are not receiving the ZOOM link emails you may be subscribed to the blog but are not on our MAIL CHIMP list. It’s private, unlike the blog, and is what we use to send out log in information. To make sure you are on that list send your full name and email address to nwwbviv@gmail.com with the subject line PUT ME ON THE MAIL CHIMP LIST.)

Meeting Information:

Christine Smith and her husband, Jeffrey bought the M/V David B in 1998 to restore as a passenger vessel for cruises in Alaska and the San Juan Islands. As a novice to world of boats she began learning all about boating, wooden boat restoration, taking care of the David B’s antique engine, and owning and operating a small business. Twenty-two years later she has a 200-ton captain’s license. Christine wrote, More Faster Backwards: Rebuilding David B about the boat’s restoration and her first adventure to Alaska and a children’s book called David B and the Terrible Rocks where the David B is a brave cartoon character who confronts his fears and makes new friends.

Besides boating Christine enjoys being out in nature and especially loves wildlife and nature photography. You can check out pictures of her adventures at https://www.instagram.com/mvdavidb/

Links for information about cruises onboard the David B and about Christine’s books: 

Northwest Navigation Co. – David B Cruises – https://northwestnavigation.com/ (Info about Cruises available onboard the David B)

David B and the Terrible Rocks – https://northwestnavigation.com/david-b-and-the-terrible-rocks-a-childrens-book/

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More Faster Backwards: Rebuilding David B  – https://northwestnavigation.com/m-f-b/

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NWWB Notes: Fascinating Sources on the World of the Octopus

We are a bunch of gals who love the water and its environs. And we are in the midst of times in which we can benefit by considering the wonders of the world rather than just the machinations humans are going through at the moment.

 I belong to a Tuesday discussion group and a subject came up for which, interestingly, a rise of excitement emerged and several of us had sources to offer on the unusual subject. It was all about octopuses. One gal highly encouraged us to watch a Netflix documentary titled My Octopus Teacher. Here is a like to a 2 ½ minute trailer for the program https://youtu.be/3s0LTDhqe5A. It looks amazing and I intend to watch it.

Another gal offered a link to a short video on Octopuses that was offered on CBS. It’s fascinating, here is a link https://www.cbs.com/shows/cbs-sunday-morning/video/4krZKIFZoIUrmrSfcM9JqASnEz_7xI8Y/untangling-the-mysteries-of-the-octopus/

Finally, I was watching the National Book Awards ceremony a few years back and the book The Soul of an Octopus was a finalist. It’s an amazing read and teaches us much about ourselves, as well. I’ve given it as a gift several times. Here is a link to a very interesting 9-minute discussion by the author. https://www.c-span.org/video/?433300-2/the-soul-octopus

Finally, here is a link to the book site. https://www.nationalbook.org/books/the-soul-of-an-octopus/

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NWWB Meeting: Mon. Sept 21st 7pm ZOOM info available – Deb Dempsey Merchant Mariner to Bar Pilot

ZOOM meeting information for entry has been sent out. If you didn’t receive it, email nwwbviv@gmail.com before Monday afternoon at 5pm. The meeting will begin at 7pm.

Deb has amazing stories to tell from an unusual life on the water, bring questions. We look forward to seeing you there. See below for further info on Deb.

picture from https://klipsunmagazine.com/providing-safe-passage-9de3a2298a2f

Link to Deb’s book on her life – Captain’s a Woman

Below is an excerpt from the website by Joan Giese

I like to make sure everyone knows the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story. A fairy tale starts, “Once upon a time …”

A sea story starts, “This is no shit.”

My mother doesn’t think I should talk in that vein. But I don’t hold back. I’m very direct. I get my hands dirty.

Debbie’s story is of a shy, inhibited girl who grew up to become a sea captain giving orders and autographs. In the shipping industry Deborah Doane Dempsey is a legend: the first woman to graduate from a maritime academy, ’76; the first American woman captain of a merchant vessel on an international voyage, ’89; the first woman captain of a vessel in wartime, ’90; the first woman Columbia River bar pilot, ’94. On a rainy day, with the fog almost obscuring our view of the Columbia River, Debbie vacillates between laughter and tears as she tells her dramatic and difficult story. 

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NWWB Meeting: Mon. Sept 21st 7pm Deb Dempsy – From Merchant Mariner to Columbia River Bar Pilot, Enjoy Fascinating Stories and Inspiration – Bring Questions.

Don’t miss this evening with a fascinating ‘woman on the water’. She’ll amaze and inspire you and is hoping that you bring a lot of questions.

ZOOM link will arrive by weeks end, watch for it. If you don’t receive it, email nwwbviv@gmail.com

Capt. Debbie Dempsey grew up amidst community sailing programs on the mouth of the Connecticut River. She was a chemistry and math minor in college delivering yachts to the Caribbean and Haiti for three years and teaching skiing in the winter. On the suggestion of a friend of her fathers, she attended the Maine Maritime Academy in 1960 becoming a Merchant Mariner. “I started out thinking I’d just get my 6-Pack” said Deb”, but she clearly had found her calling. And spent 18 years on cargo ships building up to an Unlimited Masters License, able to captain a ship of any tonnage on the ocean.

Her career has been documented in film, and books and she’s been the recipient of numerous awards. As a Merchant Mariner she delivered dry cargo, from Brahma Bulls to locomotives, all over the world working for the Lykes Brothers Steamship Company captaining steamships, which you rarely see anymore. Her ships were not container ships and loaded cargo with their own gear in, what she always found were, the industrial and ‘more interesting’ parts of countries they’d enter. On ships chartered by the U.S. Military under the Military Sealift Command she transported goods for them to the Persian Gulf.

She followed her Merchant Marine career working as a Pilot on the notorious Columbia River Bar, retiring recently after 23-years. “As a Bar Pilot”, said Deb, “I got to do what I love to do 24-7 – I like the challenge and interest of the ship handling. Deb commented, “To dock a 748’ ship is rather interesting”.

Deb’s recreational sailing spans racing Blue Jays to Whitbread contenders.  Her passion now lies in teaching others how to recreate safely on the water leading her to help start the Community Boating Center on Bellingham Bay.  It’s been said she has salt water in her veins and is definitely more comfortable afloat than ashore.


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NWWB News: Seattle Beaches and Boat Ramps Closed Thru Sunday

Just heard this on TV.  Take care in this time of smoke.

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NWWB Notes: Safe Boating Resources & Advice from the Coast Guard

united states coast guard

Coast Guard urges safe boating during holiday weekend
ASTORIA, Ore. — The Coast Guard urges boaters across the Pacific Northwest to use extra caution while on the water this Labor Day weekend.

(I’m putting the following paragraph at the top as it’s a good reminder to leave a float plan behind with someone on land, a good habit to get into.)

File a float plan: Leave a detailed float plan with a friend or family member who is staying back on land. The sooner a party can be reported overdue, the more likely a positive outcome will result. Facts need to be quickly conveyed in an emergency. Your float plan should include information that rescue personnel need in order to find you. For examples of a float plan, visit http://floatplancentral.cgaux.org/download/USCGFloatPlan.pdf

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the traditional boating season and is usually a very busy few days on the water.

“We want people to enjoy this holiday weekend safely,” said Capt. Jeremy Smith, commander of Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. “It’s important that you wear a life jacket and tell friends or family your plans, in case there is an emergency.”

Consider these safety tips for boaters before leaving the dock:

Wear a life jacket: Life jackets save lives. In 2018, 77 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those, approximately 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Accidents can leave even a strong swimmer injured, unconscious, or exhausted in the water.

Have a VHF-FM marine-band radio on board. Cell phones may lose signal off shore or run out of battery power. They are helpful but not reliable for notifying first responders of mariners in distress. Channel 16 is the channel used for emergencies that occur on waterways.

In addition to a marine-band radio, boaters should have signal flares, a sound producing device or an emergency position-indicating radio beacon to alert first responders in case of an emergency. 

If you have an EPIRB, be sure it’s registered! Once registered, and in the event of an activation, the EPIRB signal alerts search and rescue teams with information to assist in the search including who you are, your boat type and size, where you are, and other important data, including emergency contact information. 

Never boat under the influence: It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are stringent penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws, which can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail time. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

Monitor weather broadcasts: Watch for current storm advisories. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. Forecasts can be heard by tuning in to channels 1 to 5 on a VHF marine radio or by checking the National Weather Service website.

If you see something, say something: If you see someone in danger or someone you suspect may be boating under the influence, contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 or local first responders by calling 911.

Download the Coast Guard boating safety mobile app. Features included on the app are the latest safety regulations and navigation rules, as well as immediate access to filling a float plan, checking the weather, and reporting pollution hazards or suspicious activity.

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NWWB Notes: Boating Laws & Safety Info + Resources

Know Washington Boating Laws

To ensure your safety on the water, as well those around you, it is important that boaters be familiar with state laws related to vessel operation.

Learn about proper fueling, how to secure a boat to a trailer, the right way to launch a boat into the water, the navigational rules for different types of watercraft, how to share water safely with other watercraft, the steps for handling bad weather, and boating emergencies.

Of course, no one may operate a vessel on the waters of Washington state while impaired or intoxicated through the consumption of either alcohol or drugs.

Learn more about Washington State boating laws at: https://boat.wa.gov/boating/the-laws/.

Life jackets laws and recommendations

Washington State encourages all boaters, adults and children, to wear a life jacket when boating, in the case of a boat capsize or other boat accident. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of more than 80 percent of boating fatality victims.

Life jackets are required under the following circumstances:

  • All vessels (including canoes and kayaks) must have at least one U.S.Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board.
  • Vessels 16 feet or longer must have one U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation device on board. Canoes and kayaks are exempt from this requirement.
  • Children 12 years old and younger must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times when underway in a vessel less than 19 feet in length.
  • Each person on a personal watercraft and anyone being towed behind a vessel must wear U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
  • Loaner life jackets. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s Boating Program provides life jackets to boaters throughout the state. You can check out life jackets for a day or a week. Life Jacket Loaner Stations are in marinas, near boat ramps, and at some parks. Local county sheriff’s departments and some police departments also have life jackets to loan.

Learn more about Washington State life jacket laws, find a map of loaner life jacket locations, or get information buying life jackets at a discount, or getting a free life jacket at: https://boat.wa.gov/boating/equipment/life-jackets/

Mandatory Boater Education Card

If you are boating in Washington, you must have a Washington State Boater Education Card with you when operating a boat 15 horsepower or greater.

To get a boater education card, you can take an approved boater education course. There are many ways to complete the course: classroom courses, hands-on training on-the-water boat handling skills, home study course, or online course. In addition, if you are an experienced boater and have a good working knowledge of navigation rules and Washington laws, you may opt to take an equivalency exam with no reference material.

After successfully completing your chosen course, you submit an application with payment to Washington State Parks.

Learn more about the Washington State Boater Education Card at: https://boat.wa.gov/boating/boaters-card/

Register your boat in Washington State

To navigate, operate, employ, or moor a motor boat or sailboat in Washington State, you must have a Washington title, registration card, and registration decals.

A license is not required for a canoe, kayak, or any vessel not propelled by a motor or sail, or the vessel is less than 16 feet in length and has a motor of 10 horsepower or less and is used on non-federal waters only.

Learn more about Washington State boat registration at: https://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/registerboat.html

City of Seattle boating and water safety

All vessels operating on federally regulated waters, including those in the City of Seattle, shall be in compliance with all Federal, State and local equipment requirements.

Read about speed limits on local waters, accident reporting, navigating draw bridges, rules for scuba divers and water skiers, and much more at: https://www.seattle.gov/police/community-policing/boating-and-water-safety

Father and son kayaking

Father and son enjoying a kayak trip

Boating handling and water safety tips

The Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area is surrounded by water. We have many wonderful choices in water activities. But this opportunity and excitement also increases the chance of water accidents, injury, and drowning.

Washington State Parks department reports the following top reasons for fatalities and accidents on the water: (1) failure to WEAR life jackets (especially in small boats), (2) boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, (3) failure to follow water navigation “rules of the road”, (4) operator inexperience (inattention, unsafe speeds, improper lookout), and (5) no ability to call for rescue when an accident happens.

Stay safe in our waters by increasing your knowledge and practice of water safety with the following water safety tips and information.

Boating and Water Safety Information. Find information about boating and water safety, affordable life jackets, drowning risks, river safety, swimming safety, and more on the Seattle-King County Public Health website at: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/violence-injury-prevention/water-safety.aspx

Cold Water Safety. Puget Sound and many of our large lakes have very cold water. Cold water is extremely dangerous. Be sure to learn all you can about protecting you and your companions on lakes and rivers in Washington State. Read the National Weather Service informaton about Cold Water Hazards: https://www.weather.gov/safety/coldwater.

River safety. Washington State rivers are inherently dangerous places to recreate. The water can be high, swift, and cold as mountain snowpack melts. This makes staying in control and hypothermia real risks. Logs and rocks, both visible and hidden, pose navigation hazards. Rivers are dynamic systems that change constantly. Read about river safety from Seattle-King County Public Health at: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/violence-injury-prevention/water-safety/river-safety.aspx.

Seasonal Safety on Washington Lakes, Rivers, and Beaches. At any time of year, Washington waters can be appealing and dangerous at the same time. Read about seasonal water safety from Washington State department of health at: https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/WaterRecreation/LakeRiverandBeachSafety.

Water Paddling Sports Safety Tips. American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization that provides education related to all aspects of paddling sports for competition and recreation. ACA has 30,000 members and over 300 Clubs and Affiliates across the United States and abroad. The heart of the ACA is the people who paddle, cherish, protect, and enjoy the diverse waterways of America. Get educational resources on a variety of paddling topics: https://www.americancanoe.org/page/Resources

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NWWB Notes: The First VIRTUAL Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

Here’s a link to all the information about the first ‘VIRTUAL’ Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. https://virtualwbf.org/

Check it out! Content will begin Sept. 12th and will include:

Films, Presentations, Demos, Tours and Q and A’s

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