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States urged to reduce boating fatalities

The National Transportation Safety Board has called on state governments to do more to ensure the safety of boaters by enacting and enforcing laws to cut down on fatalities.

The NTSB updated its list of “Most Wanted Safety Improvements by the States,” which covers both highway and waterway issues. Here are the marine issues highlighted in the list:

• Enhance recreational boating safety. The board cited Coast Guard statistics that of the 710 recreational boating fatalities in 2006, 473 were the result of drowning and 89 percent of those who drowned weren’t wearing personal flotation devices. Only Iowa, Virginia and Wisconsin still don’t require PFDs for children (which means a federal law requiring their use is in effect), and 14 states have yet to require either mandatory education or an operator’s license for recreational boat operators.

• The board asked states to require rental businesses to provide safety instruction and training to all people who operate rented personal watercraft. Thirteen states have yet to require safety instruction at PWC rental operations.

Maps and tables providing state-by-state details for each of the recommendations can be found on the NTSB Web site (www.ntsb.gov ).

In other news, NTSB chairman Mark V. Rosenker in September received theNASBLA Award from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators at the association’s annual meeting in Burlington, Vt. The NASBLA Award is one of the organization’s oldest awards and is given to a person or people who have contributed to the organization’s mission and to the promotion of boating safety.

Also, NASBLA bestowed the Bonner Award upon Bill Gossard of the NTSB’s Safety Advocacy Division. The Bonner Award is named for Representative Herbert C. Bonner, author of the 1958 Boating Safety Act.

Hope fades for finding Fossett

The official search for adventurer Steve Fossett was suspended Sept. 19, more than two weeks after he went missing Sept. 3 in western Nevada, but family and friends were continuing the effort.

The Nevada Civil Air Patrol reported it had searched 98 percent of the 22,000-square-mile area where Fossett was believed to have gone down. By October the weather was cooling in the mountainous region, and snow was beginning to fall on higher-altitude peaks and ridges, making the search more difficult.

Regardless, air and ground searches continued from hotel magnate Barron Hilton’s Flying M Ranch, where Fossett’s flight had originated. The well-funded private search incorporates photography from five fixed-wing aircraft with eight helicopters and ground-based follow-up on potential leads, according to information on Fossett’s Web site (www.stevefossett.com ). Technology being used includes “hyper-spectral imaging,” which shows impact sites not visible to the human eye, and side-scan sonar in surrounding lakes.

Fossett, who set numerous sailing records, did not return from a solo flight in a Citabria Super Decathlon light aircraft. He did not file a flight plan. This past summer Fossett and New Zealander Terry Delore flew a glider on a 777-mile triangular course in 8 hours, 23 minutes to establish a new glider average speed record at 92.73 mph.

Report issued on boat-crushing ferry

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada in September released its final investigation report into the June 30, 2005, loss of propulsion and grounding of the Queen of Oak Bay ferry. The 457-footer lost power four minutes before it was to dock at its HorseshoeBay terminal and ran into a nearby marina, where it destroyed or damaged 28 pleasure boats before running aground. No casualties were reported.

About a week later the ferry operator, BC Ferries, reported that a missing cotter pin was to blame. The cotter pin held a nut that maintained a linkage between an engine-speed governor and the fuel control for one engine. The pin hadn’t been replaced during servicing before the accident, according to the company. The 35-page TSB report came to the same conclusion.

Soundings partners with C.G. Auxiliary

Peter K. Mitchel, publisher/general manager of Soundings magazine, and editor William Sisson accepted a National Partnership Award from the Coast Guard Auxiliary at the organization’s National Conference in Portland, Ore., in September. The magazine and the Auxiliary — the volunteer civilian arm of the Coast Guard — entered into a memorandum of agreement to work together to promote safe boating practices. The award recognized Soundings as an outstanding supporter of recreational boating safety. www.soundingsonline.com , www.cgaux.org

Boat show dedicated to green movement

The Broads Green Boat Show is touted as the “only boat show dedicated to sustainable boating and green energy.” The second annual show, held Sept. 8 in London, showcased a variety of “green” boats, including kayaks, canoes, electric boats, pedal boats and dinghies designed to have as little impact on the environment as possible.

The goal of the show is to encourage “low carbon” propulsion for boats, such as rowing, paddling, pedaling, sailing, electric and biofuel-power, and aspects of environmentally friendly design and construction. Among this year’s highlights were displays of fuel cells, solar panels, wind turbines and recycled products, as well as the opportunity to travel to the show by electric water taxi. www.broadsgreenboatshow.co.uk