The Port of Siuslaw, the US Coast Guard Siuslaw Station and other agencies are concerned about everyone’s safety in the rivers and out on the ocean. We offer some tips on safe operations as you enjoy the scenic central coast of Oregon.
1. Check the local weather forecasts. Our website offers the marine forecast as well as local forecasts. Storms and wind directions can change quickly, so be aware of what is coming in before heading out.
2. Wear a Personal Floatation Device. Bring a life jacket for everyone on board. Kids Don’t Float. The Port of Siuslaw offers life jackets to borrow for children who are heading out on the river or out on the ocean.
3. Don’t Drink and Boat. Stay sober as operating a boat under the influence is illegal and potentially dangerous for everyone.
4. Carry a Marine Radio. Cell phones are helpful, but they might not obtain signals while out on the water. Invest in a VHF radio that can offer a strong signal and one that is monitored by the Coast Guard (channels 16 and 22).
5. File a Float Plan. Tell someone where you are going. Leave a written plan of the details of your intended voyage, your boat identification and crew. When you return, tell the marina, Coast Guard, family or friends that you have returned safely. Thus, an unnecessary search can be avoided.
6. Get your boat checked before you head out. Check with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadron for a free Vessel Safety Check. They might see things which could have been overlooked.
7. Take Boating Safety Classes. Everyone can benefit from a refresher course in boating safety. Contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
8. Cover Your Boat. Make sure your bilge pumps are in working order. Heavy rains combined with wind driven waves add weight to boats to the extent that they can sink within hours.
9. Watch for large waves and debris. Large waves can and do carry debris that can injure people or drag them out to sea. When walking along the beach, be aware of your surroundings and walk with a buddy.
10. Water temperatures may be colder than you think. Temperatures in the Florence area can reach into the 90’s and it is tempting to cool off with a swim in the river or ocean. While this can be a way to beat the heat, remember that water temperatures will vary with the season and could be rather cold. Wear a Personal Flotation Device whenever possible. If caught in a current, preserve your strength and let the current carry you until the energy peters out, swim parallel to the shore a distance before turning back toward the beach.
11. Check applicable Rules and Regulations. A range of boating safety rules and regulations can be found at the Oregon Marine Board’s website:
12. Oregon Coast Jetties. The US Army Corps of Engineers manages more than 30 jetties and breakwaters along the length of the Oregon coast from Astoria-Warrenton and south to Brookings. Jetties are critical forms of port infrastructure that aid in navigation, pleasure boating and commerce. The jetties of the Siuslaw River were rebuilt several times over the past century and most recently in 1986. Over time, wind, water and wave action combine to erode jetties. Funding is urgently needed to stabilize and rebuild jetties in Oregon and across the country.
It should be noted that jetties were not constructed for recreation purposes and that people should avoid fishing from, walking, driving or climbing on these structures because of the potential hazards. Stepping hazards across open crevasses of boulders can result in serious injuries. Visible and hidden dangers exist in the form of sea spray on the rocks that can cause falls into the water. Rescues are made more difficult due to waves and strong currents surrounding these jetties. Hidden dangers, in the form of underwater currents, can remove sand, move boulders, create sinkholes and thinly covered caverns that could collapse at any time.