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Warning: Booze and boats don't mix

By JACOB H. FRIES
Published March 20, 2007


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photo
[Times photo: Jim Damaske]
Warning: Booze and boats don't mix! The Coast Guard's Josh Janney keeps his 47-foot boat nearby while crew members from a Coast Guard 25-footer board a boat off Clearwater Beach.

CLEARWATER PASS - Booze and boats. It's a dangerous combination but a common one this time of year with throngs of college students on spring break. To underscore the problem, the Coast Guard station on Sand Key invited the media aboard a 47-foot boat Monday to search for impaired boaters.

However, during the brief trip through the pass, no drunken boaters were found, just a guy playing hooky from work to fish.

A few boating facts and tips, courtesy of the Coast Guard:

-Florida, which has the most registered boats of any state, also has the most boating-related fatalities, 78 in 2005.

-Wear a life jacket. The Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could have prevented 80 percent of the fatalities.

-Take a safe-boating course. Contact a Coast Guard station to find a course near you or visit the region's Coast Guard Auxiliary at www.cgaux7.org.

-Have a Vessel Safety Check. They are free and include an examination of your boat's safety equipment. Visit safetyseal.net.

-File a float plan with a friend or neighbor. It should include as many details as possible, including the time you plan to return and the places were intend to visit. "It can really be the difference between life and death," says Randy Ryan, commanding officer of the Sand Key station.

[Last modified March 20, 2007, 00:55:15]


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