Labor Day weekend draws out boaters in full force. Coast Guard crews out of New London are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the season, working to keep waterways safe.
Gearing up, undocking and getting underway, the Coast Guard is taking the helm when it comes to boating safety over the holiday weekend.
“We actually plan it months in advance,” Petty Officer Carlos Cabral, Boatswain’s Mate at Coast Guard Station New London, said.
The crews join other agencies in patrolling Long Island Sound and Connecticut waterways.
“Labor Day weekend, we want to make sure everyone's out there being safe,” Cabral said.
He says it's one of the busiest boating weekends of the marine season, along with Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s going to start getting cold soon. Everyone wants to come out and have a good time, so there's definitely an increase that we can notice,” Cabral said.
Over the course of the weekend, Coast Guard crews will primarily be ensuring that boats have lifesaving equipment on board, things like life jackets and fire extinguishers.
State law requires a wearable life jacket for each person aboard. Anyone 12 and under needs to wear a life vest at all times.
“If you're out on the water, just have a life jacket on. It saves lives, plain and simple,” Cabral said.
This marine season there have been more than half a dozen boating fatalities in Connecticut, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
“One of the number one causes of deaths due to boating accidents is people drowning,” Cabral said.
The Coast Guard has responded to roughly 60 distress calls this summer, including a crash.
“There was a collision between two boats, and we just had to go make sure that everyone was okay,” Cabral said.
Crews underway over the holiday will be looking to prevent accidents and stop intoxicated boaters. They say these patrols are important, since the Coast Guard is seeing an uptick of people on the water.
“We saw a big increase of boating traffic last boating season, obviously due to COVID, where people were stuck inside and then people just wanted to go out,” Cabral said. “So last summer, there was a lot of boating traffic and continuing on to this summer as well.”
Going into Labor Day weekend, the Coast Guard says boaters should share their plans with trusted loved ones on shore.
Ultimately, they say it’s that safety equipment that is the most critical tool in the face of unexpected danger.
“It’s crucial,” Cabral said. “It can be the difference between, you know, life and death in a lot of cases."
The Coast Guard says anyone who runs into trouble on the water should call for help on channel 16 on a marine radio to reach their crews or other boaters nearby on the water.