Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Rear Adm. Gene Brooks, Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard District signed a memorandum of understanding [on June 19, 2009] at the Capital Building to renew relationships between the State of Alaska and the Seventeenth Coast Guard District concerning non-commercial boating safety programs and mutual enforcement of laws relating to boating safety on the waters within the jurisdiction of the State of Alaska and the United States (Warr, 2009, Â¶1).
The memorandum of understanding covers responsibilities concerning law enforcement, boating while intoxicated, public education and training, vessel numbering, boating casualty reports and investigative reports, search and rescue, Coast Guard Auxiliary and regattas and marine parades (Warr, 2009, Â¶2).
“Renewal of this agreement strengthens and continues the extraordinary relationship between the State of Alaska and the U.S. Coast Guard and demonstrates our joint commitment to boating safety,” said Rear Adm. Brooks. “In a state where boating is so much more than a recreational activity, this agreement provides the cooperative mechanisms to enhance the safety of everyone on the water in the Last Frontier” (Warr, 2009, Â¶3).
Governor Palin and Rear Admiral Gene Brooks, Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard District signs memorandum of understanding to renew relationship between State of Alaska and U.S. Coast Guard concerning recreational boating safety programs.
Alaska has more than 33,000 miles of coastline, more than the entire “lower 48″ states put together, more than 3,000 rivers, and more than 3 million lakes. Most of the state’s 621,000 residents live in the 10 largest cities, but many others live miles from the road system in towns and villages spread along the coast and the interior rivers and lakes (Warr, 2009, Â¶4).
From power boating and air boating to rafting, kayaking, and canoeing, Alaska’s boating opportunities are as superlative as they are diverse. Unfortunately, Alaska also has one of the highest non-commercial boating fatality rates in the nation (Warr, 2009, Â¶5).
In Alaska, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death. Accident statistics reveal that 3 out of 4 boating fatalities were the result of capsizing or falling overboard into cold water, where the boater was not wearing a life jacket. Most had not taken a single boating safety course (Warr, 2009, Â¶6).
This signing is part of pattern of Governor Palin’s emphasis on legislation or activities that fosters positive change in the lives of her constituents. Alaska is a seafaring state, so maintaining this relationship with the Coast Guard is of critical importance.
Though this blog is about Governor Palin’s accomplishments, the last paragraph of the Coast Guard release should give you pause, and Governor Palin would agree….This author is a recreational saltwater fisherman as well as an instrument-rated private pilot. If you own or operate a boat anywhere, you should take a boating safety course and have a proper life jacket that fits you and is suited to where it is being used. Do not go out on days or in conditions that are above either your abilities, or those of the boat. Many accidents stem from not knowing the water — not reading charts and not bothering to see what on-board equipment is telling you. A simple fish finder is also a good depth finder and help you avoid running aground — a common type of accident. It should go without saying that alcohol and other mind-altering substances — to include many prescription and over-the-counter drugs — and boats do not mix. Simply put, if you’re under the influence of something, stay ashore.
Finally, any body of water is deserving of your utmost respect. As we saw with those football players off the coast of Florida a few months back, the water does not care who you are or how much money you have. History since time immemorial has shown that disrespect for the ocean most absolutely can cost you your life and the lives of those who are with you.
Warr, D. (2009, June 19). “Governor Sarah Palin, Coast Guard Admiral sign memorandum of understanding for Alaska boating safety programs.” United States Coast Guard. Retrieved June 20, 2009 from: http://uscgalaska.com/go/doc/780/283276/