The Harbor Column:

Be careful boating this Labor Day

September 03, 2009|By Mike Whitehead


Labor Day is the weekend that usually signals the end of summer and recreational boating. However, in Southern California, now is the best time to be on the water, because the weather is warm, the sea temperature is in the 70s and the crowds will be thinning. Because our waterways do not ice over, nor do we experience the bitter cold as in other northern waterways, we have the luxury of boating year-round.

This weekend, the seas will be less than 3 feet for the west and the winds might kick up to 20 knots in the afternoons, also from the west. I do see Hurricane Jimena about halfway down Baja California, and the storm should cross into the Pacific by Saturday morning. Other than Erika, a tropical storm currently below Puerto Rico, the hurricane season is slow this year. I am hoping Jimena might bring rain while I am relaxing in Lake Arrowhead this weekend.


Tip of the week is from Gloria Sandoval, public information officer for Department of Boating and Waterways, who wants to urge boaters to operate safely over Labor Day Weekend.

Cal Boating reminds boaters to operate safely and wear their life jackets this weekend. Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day in 2008 accounted for six fatalities in California. Five of them occurred during Labor Day.

“When waterways get crowded, the chances for collision increase,” said Cal Boating Director Ray Tsuneyoshi.

Pay attention to your surroundings, as operator inattention was the leading cause of boating accidents last year. While the operator is ultimately responsible for maintaining a proper lookout, it is a good idea to designate someone else onboard to help watch for other traffic, especially on a large boat or in congested areas.

There were 32 drownings in 2008, and surprisingly, more than half of the victims knew how to swim. Often, the victim has a serious injury or is knocked unconscious and cannot swim. Other factors that can affect swimming ability include cold-water immersion, heavy clothes or alcohol consumption.

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Safe voyages.

MIKE WHITEHEAD is the Pilot’s boating columnist. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to .

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