Annapolis Maritime Museum / 723 Second St / Annapolis, MD 21403
Contact: Jeff Holland / 410-295-0104
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 21, 2011
US Coast Guard Auxiliary presents PaddleFest at Annapolis Maritime Museum
as part of Four Rivers Heritage Area’s Maryland Day celebrations, Saturday, March 26
As part of the Four Rivers Heritage Area’s Maryland Day celebrations, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Annapolis Maritime Museum will present a free day of information on how to safely participate in one of the Chesapeake Bay’s fastest-growing water-borne activities – paddling in canoes, kayaks, and other people-powered watercraft.
“PaddleFest” presents the latest in canoes, kayaks and gear as well as the newest boating safety equipment that will satisfy state and federal requirements, along with additional recommended equipment. Exhibitors include the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Maryland Natural Resources Police/ Maryland Boating Safety Program, West Marine, Annapolis Canoe & Kayak, Backyard Boats and the American Canoe Association. The event is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For directions and information on parking, see www.amaritime.org.
“With gas prices predicted to rise to $4.00 a gallon again this summer, many boaters will again curtail their powerboating activities, and get their families into paddleboats,” says event organizer Caryl P. Weiss, Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. “The benefits of paddleboating are many, in addition to the outdoor physical activity that it offers. These boats and equipment are relatively affordable, and once the equipment is purchased, there is nothing else to buy. The vessels don’t need fuel, they don’t need to be registered in Maryland, there are no dockage fees since the boats can be stored in the garage, basement, or back yard, and you can fit up to four boats on the top of a car.”
Visitors to PaddleFest will learn that to operate a paddleboat on Maryland waters, there MUST be one life jacket onboard for each person in the boat. Additionally, if the vessel is under 21 feet (which most are) and the people in the boat are under the age of 13, the life jackets MUST be worn while underway. “Of course, we recommend that they be worn by everyone onboard,” Ms. Weiss cautions. “You must also have a sound-producing device (whistle, horn, etc.), and a light for operating the vessel after sundown and in reduced visibility.”
Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. visitors can bring their boat, along with your lifejacket and all required equipment, to receive a free vessel safety checks and earn a free safety sticker for 2011. “And don’t worry,” Ms. Weiss says, “if you don’t have the right equipment, you will NOT get a ticket. You will have the opportunity to acquire what you need, and then the vessel can be re-inspected.”
At the same time, there will be flare demonstrations on the docks as well as a chance for boaters to dispose of their expired flares.
Two of the biggest programs this year are Operation PaddleSmart and the new PaddleSafe boating course, which is specifically aimed at paddlers. PaddleSmart is a program developed by the US Coast Guard to "generate greater safety awareness among paddlers and small boat operators". The primary goals are to promote the wearing of life jackets, to make boaters aware of hypothermia and weather, to encourage paddler education, to ID the boat, and to stress prudent and responsible boating.
When the authorities come upon an empty boat that’s adrift, they immediately start a search mission, which can be both lengthy and costly. Most often, the boat simply floated away from a beach or dock and the owner/operator is safely at home. The US Coast Guard has free ID stickers onto which the owner puts his/her name and phone numbers. If found, the authorities can notify the owner of the craft, and no search will be necessary. Also, the owner can then get the vessel back. There will be plenty of these free stickers at PaddleFest.