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For Release:   IMMEDIATELY
May 28, 1999

For More Information
Jim Lubner, Marine Safety Specialist, Sea Grant Advisory Services, (414)
Stephen Wittman, Assistant Director for Communications, (608) 263-5371


MADISON, Wis. (5/28/99) - The Memorial Day weekend might seem like a perfect
time to get your boat off the trailer and into the water - maybe for the
first time this year.  But if you're going out on the water this weekend,
pay attention. 

Jim Lubner, marine safety specialist with the University of Wisconsin Sea
Grant Institute, says a lot of other people will be out there, too.  He says
you can expect congestion - and you can also expect some people to be on the
water for the first time this year, and their boating skills might be rusty.

His advice: "Know the rules of the road, follow the rules of the road, and
do not assume that anybody else on the water knows the rules of the road.
They're supposed to know them, but they may not."

And what are the basic rules of the road?

Situation number one: Two boats approach each other head on.  The preferred
manner for passing, says Lubner, is "left side to left side" - that is, you
would steer your boat toward your right as you face the bow when approaching
the other vessel.  However, just one boat or either boat can take action to
avoid the other. 

"If you're in a situation where you're lined up 'right side to right side'
and can pass safely, that's OK," says Lubner.  "Don't try to take the other
approach if it means you have to cut across the path of the oncoming

Situation number two: One boat is passing another from the rear.  The boat
that is doing the passing is responsible for staying clear of the other
boat, and the boat that is being passed is responsible for holding a steady
course and speed.  These rules apply whether the boat that is passing is
approaching from directly behind the other boat or from the left or the
right side of the rear of the other boat.

Situation number three: Two boats crossing paths.  If you see a boat that
will cross your path from your left to your right, you have the
responsibility to maintain steady course and speed.  If you see a boat that
will cross your path from your right to your left, you have the
responsibility to take some evasive action, which typically would be to
swing to your right and go behind the other boat. 

"The rules oftentimes come down to courtesy and common sense," Lubner says. 

Lubner emphasizes that the single most important piece of safety equipment
on a boat is a personal floatation device or PFD.   Federal and state rules
require that all passengers in a boat have a PFD approved by the U.S. Coast
Guard that is suitable for their size.  Those means adult-sized life vests
for adults, child-sized life vests for children. 

Lubner adds one other bit of advice about PFDs - wear them.  That's because
most fatalities on Wisconsin waters occur when a boat capsizes or a
passenger simply falls overboard.

Rules of the Road-add one

"In those circumstances," Lubner says, "the only PFD that really does you
any good is one that you're wearing."

Another thing to keep in mind while boating is the weather.  Check forecasts
in advance and keep your eye on weather patterns to the west because that's
the direction from which storms approach.  Just the same, stay alert even in
clear weather, whether it's Memorial Day or any other day in the summer.

"Most boating accidents in Wisconsin - the vast majority of boating
accidents in Wisconsin - happen in small boats on summer weekends in inland
lakes in good weather," says Lubner.  "Add to that a holiday weekend and you
end up with even more chances for accidents."

More information on boating safety is available in a new book called "Water
Wise: Safety for the Recreational Boater " by Jerry Dzugan and Susan Clark
Jensen.  It's a 200-page, all-in-one boating safety book that applies to the
skippers of small and large recreational boats, in all waterways nationwide.
Published by the University of Alaska Sea Grant program and the U.S. Marine
Safety Association, a limited supply is available from the UW Sea Grant
Communications Office in Madison (608-263-3259) and the Sea Grant Marine
Safety & Education field office in Milwaukee (414-227-3291).  Cost is

# # # #

Created in 1966, Sea Grant is a national network of 29 university-based
programs of research, outreach, and education dedicated to the protection
and sustainable use of the United States' coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes
resources.  The National Sea Grant Network is a partnership of participating
coastal states, private industry, and the National Sea Grant College
Program, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of

John R. Karl
Science Writer

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
Goodnight Hall, Floor 2
1975 Willow Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1103

Phone: (608) 263-8621
FAX: (608) 262-0591