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Safe boating during the light parade

Published on December 12th, 2021

One of San Diego’s most beloved holiday traditions, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, is celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary in 2021. But with 80 boats scheduled to participate, memories remain of tragedy when in 2009 an eight-year-old boy died when the boat he was riding in to watch the parade was struck by a Coast Guard boat.

While the struck 26-foot Sea Ray was not operated irresponsibly, and it was the Coast Guard that mismanaged their 33-foot boat en route at high speed to help a grounded boater, it is the Coast Guard which has distributed a safety bulletin prior to the 2021 event in San Diego, CA.

Scuttlebutt would like to honor young Anthony Deweese and encourage everyone, wherever the location of your holiday light parade, to be alert so a festive night is never again impacted by such a tragic event. Here are the safety tips:

The Coast Guard stresses the importance of using caution and boating safety practices during San Diego’s holiday parade of lights event in San Diego Harbor.

This event brings an influx of vessels and spectators that may create inherent hazards for those who attend. Individuals watching the event from the water should exercise extreme caution, keep aware of their surroundings, the growing vessel traffic and ensure that all navigation lights are on and proper safety equipment is onboard.

Here are some more safety tips from the Safe Boating Campaign:

• Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which play a role in one-third of all recreational boating deaths.
• Take inventory of your boating equipment and make sure it is in good working condition.
• Always let a loved one know your trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board before leaving the dock.
• Use an engine cut-off switch. This is a proven safety device that’s required by law and stops the powerboat’s engine if the operator unexpectedly falls overboard.
• Always check the weather forecast before departing and do so frequently during your outing.
• Be aware of what’s going on around you at all times. A quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2020 were caused by the operator not paying attention or improperly looking out.
• Know where you’re going, be familiar with local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
• Ensure you can communicate. Cellphones, satellite phones, EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) or personal locator beacon, and VHF radios can all be important in an emergency.

“San Diego’s holiday parade of ships brings our maritime community together for the holidays,” said Capt. Timothy j. Barelli, Coast Guard Sector San Diego commander. “With this is a night event, I ask that everyone engaged be extra cautious and wear a life jacket on the water for the length of the event.”

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