Sunshine and signal flares

National Safe Boating Week

BOSTON - Coast Guard Station Gloucester hosted a boating safety day for local area residents to kick off National Safe Boating Week May 19. The local community was able to see flare demonstrations, learn about life jackets and learn why boating safety is so important.

Written by Fireman Ross Ruddell

A picture-perfect New England summer day greeted members of the boating community at Coast Guard Station Gloucester for the kick-off of National Safe Boating Week May 19. Warm sunshine and a cloudless sky lent itself as the perfect backdrop for a day of learning about boating safely.

Demonstrations of how to properly wear a life jacket, deploy a life raft and how to shoot off a signal flare were offered in hopes of instilling safe boating practices with the public.

Coast Guard auxiliarists were on hand to discuss the different types of life jackets and how to properly wear them. They talked about how to inflate the jackets and also which type of personal flotation device is applicable for each person.

“It’s the most important piece of safety equipment you can put on your body,” said Walt Taylor, the recreational boating safety specialist at the 1st Coast Guard District in Boston.

People who attended the kick-off also had the opportunity to shoot off different types of flares. Smoke flares, that emit large plumes of highly visible smoke, were shot off with supervision from active-duty Coast Guard members. Not long after, several children and adult set off the flares, and a thick haze of orange smoke filled the harbor. Signal flares, which burn red at night, added to the visual display. Several were lit, and even in the mid-day sun, a bright red flame was showing just how effective these safety devices are for the boating public.

The finale of the day’s events was when Abby Macnamara, a nine-year-old local girl visiting Station Gloucester, pulled the ripcord and deployed a self-inflating life raft. With a tough yank, Macnamara started the CO2-operated life raft and watched it unfold onto the grass.

“It was so cool,” said Macnamara.”The raft just popped right out!”

The day came to a close after a bar-b-que of hamburgers and hotdogs. After a few final demonstrations, members of the community left with a full stomach and new knowledge of what it takes to be safe on the water.

National Safe Boating Week at Station Gloucester

BOSTON - Nick Scire dons a lifejacket during a National Safe Boating Week demonstration at U.S. Coast Guard Station Gloucester May 19, 2012