Thursday, June 16, 2011
Montana may be a land-locked state, but the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is present here, patrolling the state's large bodies of water, towing boats and saving lives. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary work together to promote safe boating in the state.
"Montana's auxiliary Coast Guard members are part of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary District thirteen serving Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana," said Dave Hansen, Commander of the Helena Flotilla.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary was set up in 1939 as a group of volunteer lifesavers who support the active duty Coast Guard.
"We patrol in boats on salt water and inland lakes, provide vessel examinations to private vessel owners and carry out public education activities," Hansen said.
“Beginning this year the Auxiliary will also assist FWP with the campaign to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to Montana waters," Hansen said.
Vessel checks have nothing to do with enforcement and everything to do with safety.
"A vessel exam is free for the asking," Hansen said. "We especially encourage boaters to have an inspection this time of year to prepare for a safe boating season. A pair of well-trained eyes will look over your boat and equipment to spot trouble spots before they create a problem for you on the water."
A U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel examination looks at a boats' registration, lights, horn, lifejackets, fire extinguishers, distress signals, ventilation, fuel systems, anchor, alternate propulsion, dewatering devices electrical system, sewage system, and navigation rules. Safety check results are reported to the boat owner only.
Hansen encourages boaters to use the 'virtual' vessel exam on line by going to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Check website. For a local inspection of their boat, Montanans can contact the nearest U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla, or call Dave Hansen at 406-459-2957.
Each year, Coast Guard Auxiliary members nationwide save about 500 lives, assist some 15,000 boaters in distress, conduct more than 150,000 courtesy safety examinations of recreational vessels, and teach boating and water safety courses to more than 500,000 students. These services save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. In return, Auxiliary volunteers gain camaraderie and skills in boating, water safety, search and rescue, public education and administration.
For more information about Montana's U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, contact Hansen at 406-459-2957, or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.