Soundings - - Mail Boat -

My ini­tial out­rage came with the ver­dict to award the fam­i­lies of the de­ceased $19 mil­lion of tax­payer money for a loss that was 100 per­cent Michael Cor­nett’s fault. That may sound harsh, and I don’t want to di­min­ish the tragedy, as the loss of this fam­ily is im­mea­sur­able, but this was not the fault of the Coast Guard or U.S. tax­pay­ers. Be that as it may, the court saw things dif­fer­ently and made its award. The good that came out of this was the ef­fort put forth to im­prove the Coast Guard’s in­fra­struc­ture and man­power.

My out­rage con­tin­ues. Why? The gov­ern­ment, tax­pay­ers and the Coast Guard stepped up and did their part to as­sure this type of failed res­cue may never hap­pen. To­day, prac­ti­cally ev­ery Amer­i­can has a cell­phone. Yet how many boats are equipped with VHF ra­dios? Of those so equipped, how many are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the Mar­itime Mo­bile Ser­vice Iden­tity pro­gram, which sub­stan­tially im­proves the chance of a fast and suc­cess­ful res­cue by the Coast Guard? Why haven’t Home­land Se­cu­rity and the Coast Guard re­quired boaters to in­stall VHF ra­dios in their boats? Why is there not a re­quire­ment that VHF ra­dios be tied to GPS? Each search-and-res­cue at­tempt can cost tens of thou­sands of dol­lars, per­haps hun­dreds of thou­sands. With­out the ad­van­tage of th­ese rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive and read­ily avail­able sys­tems, SAR costs grow ex­po­nen­tially.

I be­lieve that the VHF ra­dio, MMSI and GPS should be manda­tory, as well as ba­sic boat­ing ed­u­ca­tion. I’m a mem­ber of the U.S. Power Squadrons, and we some­times find it dif­fi­cult to get boaters to take a ba­sic boat­ing course. Many states are now re­quir­ing younger peo­ple to take a ba­sic boat­ing course, but the older boaters who are ex­empt, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, should not be. It’s time for boaters to be ed­u­cated and prop­erly equipped. If one has the time and money to go boat­ing, one should have what is re­quired to be safe on the wa­ter. Fair winds and safe boat­ing. Robert Muir (USCG 50 tons in­land)

Hert­ford, North Carolina

Tom Neale’s “Sea Savvy” in the May is­sue was a fun read [“More money, fewer prob­lems? Not re­ally”]. I have his “poor man’s depth finder” on my boat be­cause the trans­ducer that was in­stalled in the hull was al­ways, it seems, cov­ered by a bar­na­cle. My cur­rent depth sounder is on a piece of wood at the stern. When I get into shal­low wa­ter, I push the stick down to put the trans­ducer in the wa­ter and lock the stick in place. When not in use, the stick hold­ing the trans­ducer is lifted out of the wa­ter. No bar­na­cle prob­lems.

C. Henry Depew

Nor­walk, Con­necti­cut

Tal­la­has­see, Florida

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