Boating Safety Hotline & Final Thoughts
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What is the Boating Safety Hotline? The Boating Safety Hotline is a toll-free telephone service operated by the U.S. Coast Guard in Washington, D.C.
Hotline operators provide callers with information on boating safety recalls and consumer complaints about possible product safety defects. Other safety information and literature concerning recreational boating can also be obtained through the Hotline.
Who can use the Hotline? Anyone with access to a telephone in the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, by dialing the toll-free number: (800) 368-5647. When can I call? A Hotline operator will be on duty Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. eastern time. Calls received after normal working hours will reach a recorded message.
Will the operator answer all my questions? Hotline operators are trained to answer many questions on boating safety directly over the telephone. If the question is very technical, the operator can ask a Coast Guard specialist to call you back. Or, if the question is too complicated to answer directly over the telephone, the operator may send you written information covering the subject. If the question deals with a topic outside of the Coast Guard's Recreational Boating Safety program, the Hotline operator will try to refer you to an office or agency that can help. If I have a safety problem with my boat, should I call the Hotline? Yes.
Consumers are an important source of information used by the Coast Guard to identify safety problems in recreational boats. When you call to report a safety problem, you will be sent an owner's report form, with a postage-paid return envelope, so you can document the details of the problem. When you mail it back, the information is evaluated to determine if the problem is safety-related. If the Coast Guard concludes that the problem represents a safety defect (a defect that poses a substantial risk of injury), then the manufacturer will be asked to conduct a safety recall.
What are some of the issues addressed on the Hotline? Trained operators are available to answer questions about:
You are just beginning to learn navigation. You now need to purchase the basic navigation equipment and take it with you every time you go paddling. Watch the chart and compass and take a bearing once in a while to get the feel of navigating. Try planing out some trips at home. When you return from paddling, plot out the course you paddled. Before each trip, look up the tides and currents and figure out how they will affect your trip. The first time you get fogged in and you help lead the group back to the take out, you will feel great. You learn navigation by navigating. Books and classes help, but you need to do it to become proficient. I strongly recommend that you purchase "Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation" by David Burch. We believe this to be the very best book on the subject. Burch covers all aspects of navigating from a kayak in simple but complete detail.