Recreational boating and paddling fatalities on waters of the Northeast's First Coast Guard District have decreased for the second year in a row. The First Coast Guard District recorded a preliminary total of 50 deaths during 2009. There were 55 fatalities in 2008 and 58 fatalities in 2007. Capsizing or falling overboard while not wearing a life jacket was the main factor.
Similar to previous years, fatalities were evenly divided between motorized and non-motorized vessels with 25 deaths in each category. Twelve canoe and five kayak fatalities accounted for 34 percent of total fatalities.
Due to the tremendous growth in kayaking in the last decade and the long-standing interest in canoeing, Northeast paddle-sport fatalities are typically double the national average.
"Looking back to last year, and as we do every year, our primary message is simply wear your life jacket," said Al Johnson, the recreational boating specialist for First Coast Guard District. "
Johnson recommends that boaters and paddlers who have not yet taken an approved boater education course to utilize the winter months to do so. Courses are available through the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons or with state, private or Internet providers. Additional course information can be found at the following Web sites or by calling the BoatU.S. course line at 1-800-336-BOAT: