Still time to make sure boats are safe

The days grow shorter, but time and good weather remain for boating through the fall season. With Labor Day weekend a week away, time remains for ensuring watercraft safety.

Boaters must follow local, state and federal requirements. Expert help meeting those rules comes from organizations such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Volunteers including Jane Forbes of the Chapel Hill Flotilla 9-8 set up free vessel safety checks at ramps and marinas, or they’ll travel to meet boat owners.

“It doesn’t have to be in the water. As a matter of fact, we like to do the inspection on the trailer. That way we can see under the boat,” said Forbes, a lawyer, environmentalist and grandmother who retired to Chapel Hill three years ago.

Forbes’ three-volunteer team looked over 30 vessels in four hours Saturday, she said Sunday at the Carolina Fall Boat Show and Sale at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

“If they have their registration, fire extinguisher and everything they need to have easily visible, it doesn’t take that long,” Forbes said.

Common violations are improper lettering and failure to have a registration. The auxiliary doesn’t issue citations, just safety advice regarding vessels from powerboats to kayaks and canoes and personal watercraft.

Having enough Coast Guard-approved life jackets in good condition is crucial, too.

“If they’re inflatable, the chemicals have to be in-date. If they’re traditional, they just have to be approved,” Forbes said.

Chapel Hill Flotilla volunteers are adding an extra date to their calendar. They will be at Crosswinds Marina on Jordan Lake from 8:30 until about noon Saturday. Cary’s Flotilla 9-11 will offer free checks Sept. 13 at Farrington Point on Jordan Lake.

To schedule a check elsewhere, go to www.safetyseal.net. Learn more at www.coastguardaux.com.

Boating course: The Raleigh Sail and Power Squadron will offer its Safe Boating and Skills Course from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 6 and Sept. 13 at Resurrection Lutheran School in Cary. The $50 fee includes a textbook and exam. Email educationalofficer@rsps.org.

Comment on waterfowl: Comment ends Thursday on North Carolina’s proposed regular waterfowl season dates. Go to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission website at www.ncwildlife.org, and click Regular Waterfowl Proposed Season Comments.

Watch online: The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will offer a live webcast of its meeting at 8 a.m. Thursday and 8:30 Friday. Up to 200 participants can watch and listen in real time. Find directions at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/listen-online.

NOAA comment due soon: Comment by Sept. 2 on NOAA Fisheries’ proposed action to establish new criteria for determining when red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy and greater amberjack are overfished. Learn more at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2014/reg_am21/index.html.

Women’s workship: The Wake County Wildlife Club will host a shooting sports and archery workshop Saturday, part of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program. Learn more at www.ncwildlife.org/learning.

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