�DANGERS OF DRIFTING THE
By CWO3 Dennis P.
Casey / Commanding Officer
UCG Station Shinnecock/East Moriches
now in full swing of the long awaited fall run for the highly sought
after striped bass. Both Moriches and Shinnecock
Inlets are crowded with boats day and night looking to hook up with a large
linesiders and with this excitement comes a great
deal of responsibility, danger but hopefully fun
times. How you prepare your boat and utilize your
practical seamanship skills will affect yourself and others.
Having been a Striper
fisherman my entire life growing up on the beaches
and rocky coast of Rhode Island, I've witnessed
numerous joyous occasions of fisherman enjoying the thrill of
landing a large striper. While serving in the
Coast Guard for over 25 years I have witnessed too many occasions where
these joyous trips have quickly turned into frightening nightmares.
Over the past 18 months
while assigned to Station Shinnecock, I have been
directly involved with the dangers of the South Shore inlets,
especially Moriches. Moriches Inlet is very unstable and hard to read.
These quiet waters change dramatically as you work your way through the Ebb
or Flood tides and require even the most
experienced boaters to pay attention. I have witnessed so many near mishaps
while fishing in my own boat during these times, that I have stopped taking
my younger children with me while fishing the Inlet.
Now to clarify this a
little there is a great number of what I consider professional boaters in
the inlet. I see them paying attention to what they're
doing and to what�s going on around them and these
boaters have saved numerous people from the rocks and waves of
Moriches Inlet. Unfortunately there are those few
people that refuse to pay attention or are just not aware of the dangers
associated with drifting or anchoring amongst a crowd of boats. These
boaters quickly become a safety concern to themselves, the boats around them
and for the people who are called to assist them. Whether it be a Good Sam,
a Towing Co., the Marine Patrol or the Coast
Guard, boaters are putting someone else�s life at risk because they may not
have been as prepared as they thought, or haven�t taken that extra safety
precaution before leaving the dock.
Over the past two weeks
the Coast Guard, Suffolk County Marine and Sea Tow have responded to
numerous incidents that were very dangerous and nearly cost someone their
life and their boat. Most of these cases are usually from boaters drifting
out the inlet on a full Ebb tide and not being
able to start their engines before entering the large waves or surf zone.
I have listed some
safety precautions that are in addition to having the federally required
Before you arrive to the inlet make sure
you are completely ready for that first drift. Some people are drifting and
paying attention to getting rods ready and rigging lines with their heads
down while drifting. Make all these preparations before you begin the drift.
If you secure your engines during the drift, make sure you have an
anchor and line rigged and ready for when that old Johnson won�t start.
Searching for your anchor and line while entering the surf is too late.
I know some folks think wearing life jackets just isn�t cool. If you
refuse to wear them, have them close by so when you have to enter the water
you can bring it with you. It will save your life and is required to be
Anchoring is a big issue. Anchoring in a navigable channel is not
permitted under federal law. Many boats anchor because they don�t want to
deal with drifting and restarting their engines. You must anchor out of the
way of the main channel, along the outside of the channel near the jetty is
acceptable. If anchoring at night you must have an anchor light (all around
white light) displayed and not be displaying your navigational running
lights (red/green side and white stern lights). If you�re drifting you need
your navigational running lights displayed at all times Other boaters
looking at you should immediately know what your doing, they do this by
identifying your lights.
Common courtesy. When the boat next to you is fighting a fish stay
out of his way even if this means ending your drift early.
If your not sure on how to safely fish in this environment, hire a
local charter. There are numerous charter boats available along the South
Shore that have highly experienced people operating them. They can take you
fishing and educate you on the local waters and customs so you�re more
comfortable taking your own boat out safely.
It�s the responsibility
of each and every boater to make sure they are doing everything possible to
keep themselves and others safe. Take a few extra minutes during this time
of year when the water is turning cold and the waves are a little bit
higher, to make sure you�re as safe as possible and you�ll live to fish