PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Over the Father’s Day weekend, U.S. Coast Guard crews responded to an expected spike in calls for help from New Jersey to North Carolina.

According to officials with the U.S. Coast Guard 5th District, crew members assisted in three medical evacuations, six disabled vessels, five other vessels taking on water, two vessels aground, another on fire and seven water vessels needing a tow. Along with boat-related rescues, the Coast Guard also responded to an unrelated mayday and three other search and rescue cases.

“Some of the cases that took place over the weekend were preventable if people took the right precautions,” shares Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Castonguay, a command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay.

With that in mind, officials passed on several tips to be aware of and use before going out on the water:

  • Always ensure your equipment is in good working order; get a free vessel safety check with your local Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla or U.S. Power Squadron
  • Review a pre-departure checklist to ensure you have everything you need in your boat, including a tool kit and first-aid kit
  • Always file a float plan or provide an itinerary with someone you trust
  • Ensure everyone on your vessel has a properly fitting lifejacket
  • Be familiar with your state’s boating laws
  • Know the “Rules of the Road” on the waterways
  • Don’t drink and drive a boat; alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination
  • Respect your limits and keep within your limits to avoid injury – river currents can be very unpredictable

“We want people to enjoy their time on the water, but safety is, and will always be, our first priority,” adds Petty Officer 1st Class Castonguay.

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