VESTED INTEREST.Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard
NEWPORT - On a recent Friday morning on Yaquina Bay Yaquina Bay (pronounced ya kwin na or, rarely, ya keen ah) is a small bay partially within Newport, Oregon, United States, located where the Yaquina River flows into the Pacific Ocean. Its area is about 8 km² (3.2 mi²). , U.S. Coast Guard Operations Cmdr. Kevin Ziegler and Seaman Apprentice seaman apprentice
1. Abbr. SA A noncommissioned rank in the U.S. Navy or Coast Guard that is above seaman recruit and below seaman.
2. One who holds this rank. Dan Naylor nudged their 25-foot fast rescue boat away from the dock for a tour around the bay.
Eight small recreational boats clustered at a nearby buoy, their occupants jigging jig 1
a. Any of various lively dances in triple time.
b. The music for such a dance. Also called gigue.
2. A joke or trick. Used chiefly in the phrase The jig is up. for herring or throwing crab pots into the water. Just west of the bridge, a sightseeing charter vessel carrying more than a dozen people headed in from the open ocean.
The nine boats in view carried at least 30 people, all enjoying the flat calm water and a windless summer morning. Of them, five wore life vests - or personal flotation devices A personal flotation device (also named PFD, lifejacket, life preserver, Mae West, life vest, life saver, cork jacket, life belt , as officials call them. Three were children, who must wear them by law. For everyone else, PFDs are optional.
On such a calm morning - a "false-advertising" morning, as Ziegler likes to call it - it's hard to believe that PFDs will be needed.
But conditions can change in the blink blink
the involuntary movement of one or both eyelids of both eyes simultaneously. The frequency varies between species. Cats blink the least, with the possible exception of owls. In birds it is the lower eyelid which is moved up to meet the upper lid. of an eye, Ziegler said. Winds come up, the flat bay gets a slight chop, the ocean swells grow larger and big, cold waves suddenly start breaking across the bar, the zone just outside the two jetties that protect Yaquina Bay.
"I've seen how fast you can lose your life," Ziegler said as he headed west. "I've seen boats go down in front of me."
Every summer, Oregonians go through the same drill. People drown or come near drowning drowning /drown·ing/ (droun´ing) suffocation and death resulting from filling of the lungs with water or other substance.
n asphyxiation because of submersion in a liquid. . Then, in the flurry of news reports, boating safety experts remind us that one of the best ways to avoid a watery wa·ter·y
1. Filled with, consisting of, or soaked with water; wet or soggy.
2. Secreting or discharging water or watery fluid, especially as a symptom of disease. death is to wear a life vest.
Yet few do.
"It's hard to get people to do it," said Dan Shipman ship·man
1. A sailor.
2. A shipmaster. , recreational boating safety specialist with the Coast Guard.
This year, a Lane County commissioner has added his voice to the call for mandatory life vest wear, at least when boats cross the bars. The Coast Guard already requires that PFDs be warn when conditions are hazardous, but it's a regulation that's difficult to police.
National surveys of boaters indicate that fewer than 21 percent wear PFDs. Exclude personal water craft, where life vest wear is mandatory, and the number drops to 17 percent.
This year, 13 people have died in boating accidents in Oregon waters, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the state Marine Board. Eleven of them were not wearing life vests.
Most of these deaths occurred on inland waters Canals, lakes, rivers, water courses, inlets, and bays that are nearest to the shores of a nation and subject to its complete sovereignty.
Inland waters, also known as internal waters, are subject to the total sovereignty of the country as much as if they were an actual part . But the ocean has seen its share of recent tragedies and near misses.
In July, three recreational boaters spent almost seven hours clinging to an ice chest after their boat swamped and sank off Newport. The only life vest they salvaged was a child's unit, and the search dragged on because they lacked a locator beacon, flares or mirrors to signal the Coast Guard vessels and helicopters.
In May, Newport fishing charter boat captain Jim Edson fell overboard o·ver·board
Over or as if over the side of a boat or ship.
To go to extremes, especially as a result of enthusiasm. while gaffing a halibut halibut: see flatfish.
Any of various flatfishes, especially the Atlantic and Pacific halibuts (genus Hippoglossus, family Pleuronectidae), both of which have eyes and colour on the right side. for one of his passengers. Edson died. He wasn't wearing a life vest.
Last September, a Winchester Bay skipper lost three passengers when his charter boat, the Sydney Mae II, was pounded to pieces by large waves at the Umpqua River The Umpqua River (UHMP-kwah) is a river on the Pacific coast of Oregon in the United States, approximately 111 mi (179 km) long. One of the prinicipal rivers of the Oregon coast, it drains an expansive network of valleys in the mountains west of the Cascade Range and south of the Bar. Captain Richard Oba faces three counts of manslaughter in the deaths because he ignored repeated Coast Guard warnings that the bar was too dangerous to cross. None of his passengers wore a life vest.
Shipman has heard the range of excuses during his two decades with the Coast Guard.
"You get the same complaints that you did with seat belts. It's too bulky. It's too cumbersome. It's too hot," he said.
Life vests not created equal
In the case of the charter boats, the complaints of discomfort are understandable. Boats licensed to carry fishing or sightseeing passengers must carry the hefty Type I PFDs.
The inherently buoyant units are bulky and designed to be self-righting, meaning they can hold an unconscious person's head above water. They are thicker and more buoyant than the Type II and Type III Type III may stand for:
But that beefy beefy, beefyness
1. in dog conformation, used to describe overdevelopment of musculature in the hindquarters.
2. in cattle, used to designate the desirable physical conformation of a beef animal, but an undesirable character in dairy cattle. design also makes Type I vests awkward to wear.
The Coast Guard carries Type I PFDs on its vessels - not for the crew, who wear dry suits and lighter Type II vests, but for accident victims. Ziegler strapped one on to demonstrate.
"It is uncomfortable. It's not designed to fish in," he said.
In 22 years of operating a charter fishing boat out of Newport, Greg Todd, who owns Seagull seagull
a noisy, gregarious bird that frequents the seashore. Web-footed, hook-billed, white with gray wings. Member of the family Laridae and of the genus Larus. Charters, says he can count on one hand the number of passengers who have worn a life vest for the entire trip.
"They're too uncomfortable, they're bulky and it's hard to do things with them on," said Todd, who refers to the design as the horse collar See: rescue strop. .
Charter boats are required to have a PFD PFD
personal flotation device on board for each passenger and to give a safety lecture about them at the start of each trip.
Manufacturers have made more comfortable inflatable in·flat·a·ble
Designed to be filled with air or gas before use: an inflatable mattress.
An object or device that can be filled with air or gas, especially:
a. Type I PFDs, but the Coast Guard doesn't approve them for charter boats serving six passengers or fewer because the agency doesn't inspect the small boats. Charters carrying more than six passengers are annually inspected and are allowed to use the more comfortable Type I PFDs.
But those new vests are more expensive and their manufacturers require them to be returned and serviced annually to make sure the automatic inflation device works properly, said Ensign Nick Barrow, a spokesman at the Coast Guard's Portland office, which handles vessel inspections. The extra cost - almost $200, compared with about $40 for the standard kind - and servicing hassle makes them unpopular with charter board owners, he said.
It's a Catch 22 for everyone involved: The safest, most reliable life vest is the one nobody wants to wear.
Charter boat operators say their passengers don't need to wear them because they don't go out during dangerous conditions.
And the charter boats' fatality fa·tal·i·ty
1. A death resulting from an accident or disaster.
2. One that is killed as a result of such an occurrence. record may bear them out.
For example, from 1995 to 2005, 16 charter passengers died crossing Oregon river bars. None wore life vests.
During that same period, 167 recreational boaters - 121 of them without life vests - died. There are 202 licensed charter boats in Oregon, compared with 173,503 recreational boats.
`If you look at the amount of fatalities, (charter boats are) an extremely safe business,' said the Coast Guard's Shipman. "Unfortunately, you get these catastrophic accidents, it gets attention."
Eleven of the charter boat deaths were the result of a single accident in 2003 in Garibaldi Bay, when the vessel Taki Tooo capsized while crossing the bar.
In the wake of that accident, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the Coast Guard implement go/no-go policies for charter boats and do a better job of enforcing its requirement that passengers wear life vests when conditions get rough.
Charter boat skippers have developed such go/no-go policies based on tides and wind conditions, and the Coast Guard is in the process of adopting them.
Danger at the bar
But that's not enough for Lane County Commissioner Bill Dwyer, whose neighbor died in the Winchester Bay accident last year.
"I'd like to see flotation devices required when crossing the bar, and I'd also like to require strobe lights strobe light
A flash lamp that produces high-intensity short-duration light pulses by electric discharge in a gas.
strobe light as part of the flotation devices," he said.
"When you're in charge of protecting someone else you've got a responsibility," he said of the charter boat operators.
Dwyer said he'll push the state Legislature A state legislature may refer to a legislative branch or body of a political subdivision in a federal system.
The following legislatures exist in the following political subdivisions:
But seasoned charter boat skippers resist such a mandate. It would be like requiring airline passengers to put on a parachute every time they take a commercial flight, said Mike Stowe, who operates the Blitz, a 55-foot tuna boat, out of Newport.
The boats already have sufficient safety features, skippers say: high rails to keep passengers from falling overboard, life rafts that automatically deploy and boat locator beacons that will help the Coast Guard find them in the event of accidents.
If conditions on the bar are rough enough to require life vests, Stowe said, then it's too rough to go fishing, and he won't take passengers out. If the weather shifts while he's out fishing, Stowe said he tells his passengers to put their PFDs on.
Todd of Seagull charters recalls once having to stand off the Yaquina Bar for five hours, his boat bobbing in the water, his passengers seasick, because it was too dangerous to cross. But everybody got home safely.
"In 22 years, I've never had anybody go in the water," he said.
Sometimes, customers grumble when Todd cancels a trip because of the weather.
`We'll put them on a boat and take them out to buoy seven (west of the the Yaquina Bay Bridge The Yaquina Bay Bridge is an arch bridge that spans Yaquina Bay south of Newport, Oregon. It is one of the most recognizable of the U.S. Route 101 bridges designed by Conde McCullough.
The bridge opened on September 6, 1936, at a cost of $1,301,016. ) so they can see what we're talking about,' he said.
Crews standing by
Friday was a training day for the Yaquina Bay Coast Guard crews. They took their two 47-foot vessels out beyond the bar, where 4-foot swells rocked them and they practiced man-overboard drills.
Sometimes they practice with life rings. Sometimes they practice with 180-pound dummies. That kind of weight is surprisingly hard to pull into a boat, said Seaman Apprentice Naylor.
Ziegler estimates that the Yaquina Bay station does 400 search and rescue missions Noun 1. search and rescue mission - a rescue mission to search for survivors and to rescue them
deliverance, rescue, saving, delivery - recovery or preservation from loss or danger; "work is the deliverance of mankind"; "a surgeon's job is the saving of lives" a year. On a windless summer day when the water is calm, the crews won't be called out at all. On a busy windy weekend, they may go out 15 times in an afternoon, responding to boats taking on water, boats that have run out of fuel, boats whose engines have failed.
When they aren't rescuing or practicing rescue techniques, they're often standing by at the bar, ready to help as boaters come and go.
Ziegler had just such duty in October when 4-foot seas turned into 15-foot seas. The big waves were coming in sets, Ziegler said, and he warned an approaching fishing vessel, the 34-foot Tillamac, to come around and face into the waves.
But the captain failed to get his boat around and the waves pushed it broadside, then swallowed it whole.
One second it was there, the next it was gone. Soon bits of broken boat began popping up. Ziegler's crew rescued boat operator Michael Riddell, the only person on board. He wasn't wearing a life vest.
"People don't realize how fast you can go from having a good day to being in a lot of trouble," Ziegler said.