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