PACIFIC COUNTY - Aug. 1st was the opening of the Buoy 10 fishing season. A joint effort from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Group Astoria, Station Cape Disappointment, USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 62 and 64 with assistance from Flotillas 63 and 69 of Division 6 and also Flotillas out of Division 7, began one of the largest on the water safety program in the history of this area.
We manned the docks and ramps at Ilwaco, Fort Canby, and Chinook, as well as at Astoria, Hammond, and Warrenton. We personally handed out charts, Washington, Oregon and government regulation books and other safety materials. We spoke to over 13,000 boat owners and their passengers about the necessity of wearing personal floatation devices, having communication on board, ignoring hostile boaters, staying out of shipping lanes and having the proper safety equipment on board. We also completed over 350 vessel checks at that time.
What we accomplished shows. During the 2001 Buoy 10 season there were seven deaths as compared to one in 2002; in 2001 there were 285 SAR cases compared to 186 in 2002; in 2001 there were nine medi-vac cases in 2001 and four in 2002. Also in 2002 182 boardings were made, and 5000+ safety information packets were handed out, and over 700 vessel safety checks have been done in the first eight months of this year.
The operation is called "Buoy 10 Task Force," a joint effort between USCG District 13, USCG Group Astoria, USCG Station Cape Disappointment, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Oregon State Police, Clatsop County Sheriff and Oregon State Marine Board, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This operation was active from Aug. 1, to Sept. 15.
Speaking for all concerned, lives were saved and injuries were kept at a minimum. More people wore their life jackets than ever before in the history of Buoy 10. Our feeling of accomplishment was ever present and the gratitude from the fishermen were reflected in such remarks as, "Thanks for caring about us!" "We really appreciate what you guys are doing for us." and "You guys are the greatest!" A special thanks to all the fishermen and their passengers for following safe boating practices.
Because of the large effort of public relations in all fields of newspapers, television safety spots, radio spots, interviews, etc., and being present in uniform at the docks, approximately 30,000 people now know who we are and what our mission is: Safety on the waters of the Columbia River, from the Astoria/Megler Bridge to the Pacific Ocean.
We can all be proud of a job well done. Also, a special thanks to the Chinook Observer for their dedicated support.
From all of us at Cape Disappointment (Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary), to all of you, have a great winter and we'll be seeing you again next year during Buoy 10 season. Stay safe!