RBS Outreach Directorate News

Statements of policy or procedure provided by members of the Chief Director's office, national elected officers, or department directors posted on this webpage should be regarded as official statements.

Parasailing Operations: Know Your ROPES

A series of parasail incidents resulting in fatalities and injuries have occurred over the last few years. Since 2006, there have been 11 deaths and 52 injuries as a result of parasailing activities. There have been several common factors in all of these incidents that are unique to parasailing. The following mnemonic ‘Know Your ROPES’ was designed to remind parasail operators of important safety issues that may help prevent future casualties:

Remember that most parasail fatalities and injuries are related to the failure of the towline. Failures have occurred at tensions significantly below the rated towline strengths due to a variety of reasons that may include cyclic loading, long term exposure to environmental elements, the presence of knots creating a weak point, and overloading.

Observe and monitor weather conditions continuously. Increases in wind speed impacts the relative speed against the chute, where limits of the towline and/or chute can quickly be exceeded. As wind speed doubles, the load on the towline may quadruple. Be vigilant in monitoring weather conditions noting the formation of squalls, thunderstorms, or whenever weather fronts are expected to pass through your operational area. Cease operations well before such weather conditions impact your parasailing operation. ASTM Standard F2993-13 published on April 1, 2013 is a ‘Standard Guide for Monitoring Weather Conditions for Safe Parasail Operation’. It is available for purchase and download on line at http://www.astm.org/.

Prepare for emergencies by having well documented procedures and conducting crew training to ensure proficiency in responding to emergencies such as towline breaks, winch failures, propulsion failures, and any other concerns that impact crew/passenger safety.

Ensure that all of your equipment is properly maintained on a continual basis. This includes the winch and drive motor, hydraulic brakes, hoses and piping, spooling systems, and other tackle. Also check your chutes, harnesses, and related components for stitching failures, degradation, and the need for general repairs. Immediately correct identified problems.

Safety is up to you the Operator. Coast Guard Credentialed Operators are expected to provide an adequate level of safety during vessel operations, to include the monitoring of weather conditions and maintenance of equipment.

The Coast Guard encourages owners and operators to work with each other and related industry associations to share best practices and develop operational standards to maximize safety and prevent marine casualties. Enforcement action may be taken against the operator for misconduct or negligent operation.

This alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international requirement. Developed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis, USCG Headquarters, Washington, DC.

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USCG Project Experts Launch National Human Propelled Boat Standards Survey

Portsmouth, RI (July 29, 2013) — A team of experts assembled with U.S. Coast Guard  (USCG) grant funding seeks national content validation of a set of entry level, skill-based Human (manually propelled) boat operation standards. This is your opportunity to impact the development of recreational paddling and rowing (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboards, etc.) standards across the country by completing this on-line survey.

WHAT:     The National On-Water Standards Team, funded by USCG grants, is seeking input from recreational paddling and rowing educators across the nation on a first-round set of standards to be used to assess the performance of Human propelled boating skills at the entry level. Following the survey, the standards will be updated to reflect input from paddlers and rowers nationwide and eventually validated and updated though a national field-testing program.

WHERE:     https://www.research.net/s/humanv1nationalcontentsurvey

WHEN:     The survey will be conducted July 31 – August 30, 2013.

WHO:     Recreational paddling and rowing enthusiasts and especially those with experience in On-Water teaching or training are urged to participate in an on-line survey designed to collect feedback on the content of these entry-level, skill-based standards for manually propelled boating.

WHY:     By completing this survey you will have a voice in the design of a national set of HUMAN boating standards for recreational paddlers and rowers in the US. This effort is part of the US Coast Guard’s (USCG) vision of a National System of Standards for Recreational Boat Operation – that will organize both classroom and on-water standards within a comprehensive system of recreational boating education. The system will address standards for three domains of recreational boating: SAIL, POWER and HUMAN propulsion.

US Sailing has been awarded grant funding from the U.S. Coast Guard to facilitate a consensus-based process by which a team of diverse SMEs from across the recreational boating community develop entry level, skill-based performance standards for recreational boat operation. An objective grant facilitator is designing and managing the collaborative development of SAIL, POWER and HUMAN propelled standards that will eventually be recognized (not mandated) by the US Coast Guard for incorporation in recreational boating training programs nationwide.

CONTACT:     For more information, please contact K. Brian Dorval at 716-994-2842 or brian@thinkfirstserve.com

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Updated West Marine Coupons

West Marine, one of our boating safety partners, has re-issued their discount coupons for safety equipment. Vessel Examiners should carry a stock of these coupons with them to help boaters acquire any safety items they were missing during a vessel examination. The new coupons are in color, so ideally they should be printed on a color printer. The PDF is here.

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New Instructional Resource on Emergency Signaling

The RBS Outreach Directorate is pleased to announce a new partnership with Orion Signals, a leading manufacturer of flares and other emergency signaling devices. Orion is offering Auxiliarists a free “Safety Awareness Kit.”

Orion Safety Information

Orion Safety Information

This kit includes laminated flare charts (Visual Distress Signal Guides), ‘Saved by the Signal’ brochures, and some useful “Upcoming Vessel Safety Check” posters. It also includes rebate coupons that Auxiliarists can use when purchasing needed Orion safety products.

To enroll in the program, Auxiliarists should visit this site.

In the Guestbook window, enter your name and mailing address.

Clicking “Submit” will launch a short introductory video, followed by a 20 minute instructional video (which you can pause at any time). This 20 minute video is a tremendous resource to deepen your understanding of the various types of marine flares and the proper use of each. It’s so comprehensive that it can even be used for Auxiliary Member Training. As you watch the video, take careful notes — every Auxiliarist will learn several useful pointers from this video, and chances are that you will not pass the questionnaire (required to recieve your Orion RBS Kit) unless you do.

After the video, a 20 question review of the video begins. Answer the questions with a passiing ratio, and you will receive your Orion Safety Kit, directly from Orion. More importantly, you will be a better Auxiliarist, Vessel Examiner, Program Visitor, and/or Instructor.

The RBS Outreach (“B”) Directorate sincerely thanks Orion for helping to make us all better Auxiliarists by increasing the knowledge we pass along to the boating public.

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Emergency Recall of Propane Cylinders

The US Dept of Transportation (DOT) has just announced a recall of 55,000 propane cylinders manufactured by the Lite Cylinder Company with any of the numbers M5729, DOT-SP 14562, DOT–SP 13957 or DOT-SP 13105 as they may leak flammable gas or explode.

This information should be checked on any boat with a propane cylinder (or other user of propane cylinders). We believe that this information may have greatest applicability to houseboats but may be found anywhere propane is used.

Additional identification information and disposition instructions are contained in this PDF file and this web site.

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“If Found” Stickers Available for Paddlecraft Again

"If Found" sticker

“If Found” sticker.

Through their Safe Boating Campaign resource page, the National Safe Boating Council has made paddle craft “If Found” stickers available to Auxiliary Flotillas and members in packs of 100, free of charge. These weatherproof stickers have proven to be invaluable to emergency responders when paddle craft are found adrift without an operator. Each sticker has room for the vessel owner’s name and two phone numbers.

While at the NSBC website you might want to check out the other free safe boating materials that are available and request some at the same time.

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Coast Guard Looking For Volunteers To Support Boy Scout Jamboree

The Coast Guard has been asked to support the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, which will be held at the Bechtel Summit Reserve, Beckley, West Virginia, from 15-24 July 2013. The National Scout Jamboree brings together Boy Scouts, venturers, and their adult leaders for training and unique outdoor adventures and experiences. This years Jamboree will be a historical event as it will be first time the Jamboree will be held at the Boy Scouts of Americas (BSA) new 10,000 acre high adventure site. The total number of Scouts attending is expected to exceed 40,000 with more than 50,000 additional visitors.

This high visibility event is a prime opportunity for the Coast Guard to reach a large number of people who are interested in boating safety, maritime environmental stewardship, and maritime laws and regulations.

RDML Dan Abel, the Flag sponsor, has been tasked by the Vice Commandant to coordinate the Coast Guards support of this event. CDR Jeff Westling has been designated as the Coast Guards National Scout Jamboree (NSJ) Task Force (TF) commander and will be in charge of team Coast Guard participation at the Jamboree. The deputy task force commander is LT Jonathan Schafler. Task force members will be selected from active duty, reserve, auxiliary, civilian and retired personnel.

Due to the short preparation time available, task force members are needed immediately to fill various leadership, liaison and staff positions in the following functional areas:

  • Administration
  • Merit Badges
  • Sea Scouts
  • Coast Guard Exhibits
  • External CG Forces
  • Communications
  • Public Affairs, and
  • Logistics

The leadership team will develop and manage strategies for achieving the Coast Guards NSJ desired end state and provide operational level guidance to the task force commander who will exert tactical control through functional area and individual task leaders.

Task leaders will be needed in the following areas:

  • NORTHCOM liaison. Provide direct communication for establishing and maintaining mutual understanding and cooperation with USNORTHCOM and subordinate staffs.
  • Transportation manager. Arrange for and schedule the usage of government vehicles.
  • Berthing/meals coordinator. Coordinate meals planning, and act as master at arms for assigned berthing space(s).
  • Merit badge lead. Develop lesson plans and ensure the availability of necessary teaching aids for their respective merit badges.
  • Exhibits coordinator. Arrange for the scheduling, set up, and removal of USCG displays. Each CG exhibit will have a lead exhibitor with staff to showcase Coast Guard missions to NSJ participants and visitors.
  • Safety advisor. Advise NSJ TF commander on all safety related issues. Evaluate USCG sponsored events and stations to ensure compliance with appropriate safety standards.
  • Medical support coordinator. Ensure all participants have current medicals. Coordinate medical issues between USCG, BSA, and USNORTHCOM. Provide onboard medical advice to NSJ TF commander.

Those members interested in this unique volunteer opportunity require command approval and must submit same to the POC listed below NLT 22 May 2013. The deadline for the quick-fill positions in Paragraph 3 is NLT 15 May 2013. Requests for the task force selection must be submitted via email with info copy to their immediate supervisor, and include the following information:

  • Name
  • Rank/rate/position description and contact information
  • Present unit and description of duties
  • CG experience and specialty, if any
  • Name and contact information of supervisor
  • Description of current or previous scouting experience, including Jamborees
  • Highest scouting rank held, if any
  • A list of all scouting training and certifications, if any, including merit badge counselor
  • Desired position(s) on Jamboree task force
  • A statement as to the ability of member to participate full time on the task force during the Jamboree period 13-25 July, 2013, to include set-up and tear-down of exhibits
  • Acknowledgement that CG NSJ TF members must comply with the BSA health and weight/body fat standards required for all BSA adult participants. Details can be found here

Consumption of alcohol onboard the Summit will not be permitted in accordance with BSA policy. Use of tobacco products will be allowed only in authorized locations and not while interacting with Scouts and visitors in accordance with BSA policy.

Task force members will be notified by email of their selection.

In order to attend, all task force members will need to have permissive orders, or equivalent, from their command and be required to pay out of pocket for the trip to/from the Jamboree site. Travel costs, berthing, meals and incidental expenses will not be reimbursed. While all efforts are being made to contain costs, members should anticipate costs up to approximately 600 dollars for the duration of the event, excluding individual transportation expenses. Anticipate berthing onsite at the Jamboree in tents with ambient air showers or possibly at a West Virginia National Guard armory. CG NSJ TF members will purchase meals from the BSA and/or DOD/WVARNG dining facility.

Reservists selected shall be authorized one unpaid readiness management period (RMP) per day IAW Ref. A, CH.2.a.5. Travel and per diem will not be reimbursed.

For Civilians: DHS MD 254-01 limits employees to 40 hours of administrative leave (excused absence) per leave year for participation in mission-related volunteer activities, which may include certain volunteer activities related to the Jamboree.

Civilian volunteers and their supervisors should contact CDR Westling to see if administrative leave is authorized. If not authorized, or if you have already used a portion your available 40 hours of administrative leave, the balance of the time needed to volunteer for the Jamboree will need to be made up from annual leave, accrued compensatory time off or earned credit hours (if available), or leave without pay.

POCs are CDR Jeff Westling (252)335-6535/ jeffrey.c.westling(at)uscg.mil or LT Jonathan Schafler (757) 672-7854/ jonathan.i.schafler(at)uscg.mil

RDML Steven D. Poulin, Director, Governmental and Public Affairs, sends.

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Spring 2013 Issue of WAVES Published

The latest issue of WAVES, the RBS Outreach watercraft and vessel safety newsletter, has now been posted to the Newsletter page (you can download the PDF directly here). It includes a number of stories of interest to everyone involved in the mission of recreational boating safety, including tips for improving your flotilla’s National Safe Boating Week activities.

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Safety Alerts: Counterfeit Fire Extinguishers and Bow Riding

The US Coast Guard has just issued two new safety alerts that all recreational boaters should heed.

The first alert describes the discovery of counterfeit fire extinguishers, and begins this way:

The Coast Guard has recently become aware of counterfeits of U.S. Coast Guard approved portable fire extinguishers manufactured by Amerex Corporation and Buckeye Fire Equipment. Both companies are major producers of genuine approved fire extinguishing equipment and serve a worldwide market. These counterfeit extinguishers present a significant safety hazard. Their capability to extinguish a fire is unproven; they may be charged with a powdery substance that is not a fire extinguishing agent, the pressure cylinder is not DOT approved, and the pressure gauge may not function or give false readings…

The second alert pertains to bow-riding in heavy weather:

Several passengers standing in the bow pulpit of a 106’ inspected whale watching vessel were injured while underway. The vessel struck a large wave, its bow rose and slammed down causing the passengers in the pulpit to lose their balance and fall to the deck. Injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to a broken patella (knee) and jaw. Although there were many other passengers on board at the time, only the passengers standing in the pulpit were injured…

You can download and read copies of both alerts as a printable PDF here.

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Gear up for safety—take a paddle sport class!

When paddlers ask the question “What’s the next piece of gear I should get?”, Neil Schulman answers “Take a course.”  In the 2013 Annual Paddling Buyer’s Guide, Schulman’s Rock the Boat column questions why paddlers spend thousands of dollars for equipment, but resist taking formal instruction. He describes four recent incidents in his home waters which resulted in the destruction of two boats and required Coast Guard rescues of five persons.  The causes of these incidents, he says, were not equipment problems: they were “errors in seamanship, decision-making and execution–things that can be learned and practiced, but not purchased.” Coast Guard Auxiliarists can help paddlers improve their knowledge this winter by offering Paddle Sports America classes in their locale for canoeists, stand up paddlers and white water and sea kayakers.

The courseware is available for download on the Auxiliary web site here.  This three to four hour classroom instruction provides the basics of paddle sport safety.  Topics include:  Know Your Paddlecraft – parts of a canoe and kayak; understanding paddlecraft characteristics such as basic types, hull shapes hull materials, lengths and widths and weights; selecting your paddle for both canoe and kayak; Before You Get Underway – knowing your paddlecraft’s capacity and how to file a float plan; transporting your paddlecraft; conducting a pre-departure check; dressing for a safe trip; loading gear in a canoe or kayak; storing paddle craft; the responsibilities when paddling with others; Operating Your Boat Safely – how to enter and exit a canoe or kayak safely; securing the paddlecraft and sharing the waterways with others; the U. S. Aids to Navigation System (ATONS); learning about local hazards on waterways, The Legal Requirements of Boating -vessel registration, hull identification numbers and who may operate a paddlecraft; unlawful operation of paddlecraft; Homeland Security restrictions; policies on alcohol and drugs. Life jackets; navigation lights; sound-producing devices and visual distress signals; protection of environment and what to do if in a boating accident. (State specific information may be added at the end of this chapter.); and Boating Emergencies… What to Do – minimizing the risk of drowning, capsizing, swamping or falling overboard; emergency techniques; how to deal with cold water immersion and hypothermia; understanding heat related illness; dehydration; handling weather emergencies.

The Buyer’s Guide, published in Canada, is a partner of the American Canoe Association.

Don Goff, BC-BLC

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