MUSKEGON, Mich. — Sunday boats will gather on Muskegon Lake for the annual kick-off to the summer cruising season.
The Blessing of the Boats begins at 12:30 pm near the Milwaukee Clipper just outside Safe Haven Great Lakes Marina.
The Aquastar, along with a Muskegon County Sheriff Boat, will lead the official blessing parade of boats out through the Muskegon channel.
The sheriff's boat will begin washing of the Muskegon lighthouse at 1:15 p.m. Then the event will return to Muskegon Lake for the blessing around 1:30 pm along side the Aquastar.
Going into the summer the U.S. Coast Guard is promoting safety on the Great Lakes. The safety education effort by the Coast Guard also recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971.
For boaters, safety begins with always wearing a life jacket.
"First and foremost it's making sure you have enough life jackets and the right size of life jackets for people on board," said Don Hamilton with U.S. Coast Guard Station Grand Haven.
Boaters not only have properly sized and fitted life jackets for every person aboard their vessels as required by law, but also ensure everyone aboard is wearing their life jacket at all times.
The Coast Guard recommends always filing a float plan before departing and leaving it with a reliable source. This information; including name, boat type and identification, route, and expected return time can be extremely useful in locating missing and overdue boaters.
Personal Locator Beacons can be purchased and kept in your vessel or on your person if you are going on the water. These devices are specifically registered to the owner and send a satellite signal to rescue agencies for quick response time when a boater is in distress.
The number of deaths in 2020 exceeded 2019 by 24% and the deaths in June, July and August of 2020 were the highest in 23 years.
The most recent statistics show that 79% of boating fatalities on our Nation’s waterways were drownings, and 86% of those victims were not wearing life jackets.
This year, wearing an engine cut off switch link became a requirement while operating certain recreational vessels. Each year, nearly 75 people die and 400 more are injured when they are struck by a propeller or a vessel.
Especially for first time paddle craft owners who may be unaware, the Coast Guard strongly urges you to label your gear. This includes vessels, oars and life jackets. Each year, the Coast Guard responds to unmanned vessels, oars and even pool floats that have drifted away from their proper storage location. You can save responders time and resources by labeling your gear with name and contact information.
For more information about National Safe Boating week and safe boating requirements.
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