|FYI — August 2002|
|By Brad Dunn|
in the Hull
It was the area's third major fire of the year, and fire officials and boat owners say the flames could have been tamed if a fireboat were stationed closer to the marina. In fact, the fireboat that finally fought the blaze took an hour to get there, according to the The Herald of Everett, Washington. But by that time, the damage--about $10 million worth by some estimates--was already done. Boats in the 40-foot range were among the costlier casualties.
At presstime Seattle mayor Greg Nickels and fire chief Gary Morris had not yet decided whether to station a fireboat near the area.
In the meantime, across the country, another blaze destroyed at least 50 boats at the Colonial Beach Yacht Center on the Potomac River in Virginia. Though no cause has been found, the flames consumed mostly boats under 25 feet. No estimate of value loss has been made, but the yacht club said its docks had suffered at least $100,000 in damages.
Of course, "695 are still too many boating-related fatalities," says Steve Hall, president of NASBLA. "Those committed to boating safety and education aim for zero boating fatalities across the nation."
The U.S. Coast Guard says that the primary cause of boating accidents continues to be negligent operator behavior such as inattention, recklessness, and speeding, as opposed to uncontrollable factors such as vessel or environmental influences. Moreover, one out of every three boating fatalities in 2001 was related to alcohol. The Coast Guard says boat operators with a blood alcohol level above .10 percent are ten times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than sober operators.
Sam Wants You
The new effort, which is in conjunction with the Marina Operators Association of America (MOAA), will first focus on the heavily traveled waters of the southeastern United States, but will likely become a national program. It will focus on all sorts of terrorist threats, be they on the water or on shore.
"In addition to education, a toll-free number will be provided that will allow boaters and marina operators and owners to report any suspicious activity they find," says James Frye, MOAA's executive director. That number is (800) 424-8802.
According to the CIA, terrorist groups are less likely to fire a missile at the United States than to use trucks and ships to deliver chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.
"By participating in this program, marina operators and owners can help protect against a terrorist attack by becoming additional sets of eyes and ears along our coastlines and waterways," Frye says.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.