Coast Guard warning

DATE: December 11, 2008 17:12:14 PST

Coast Guard Urges Mariners to Exercise Caution as Storm System Moves South Along California Coast

Press Release

Coast Guard Urges Mariners to Exercise Caution as Storm System Moves South Along California Coast

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The National Weather Service has a Small Craft Advisory for the Central and Northern California Coast, and has issued a Gale Warning for the coastal waters north of Point Arena.

A low-pressure system is moving south out of Canada, bringing cold temperatures, precipitation, and rough seas.

For the waters north of Pigeon Point, the winds and seas are expected to build over the next several days, with sustained wind speeds up to 40 miles per hour and swells as high as 30 feet. These conditions will be building through Friday, and peaking Saturday or Sunday.

For the coastal waters along the San Francisco and Monterey Bays, a Small Craft Advisory is in effect through Saturday afternoon. Winds will be steady up to 29 miles per hour through the weekend, with swells reaching up to 20 feet on Saturday.

The conditions could potentially become worse than forecasted as the system moves south. It is also forecasted that several other systems could move south through next week, so hazardous conditions could remain beyond the weekend.

Several lives were lost along the California and Oregon Coast over the Thanksgiving weekend as a result of high surf and rough seas. The Coast Guard is urging that all people heed the warnings and exercise extreme caution while on or near the water to avoid any loss of life from this system.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that people avoid going near beaches or other low-lying coastal areas, especially jetties and rocky areas, over the next several days. Large waves can quickly, and unexpectedly sweep a person from these areas. Even the strongest swimmers can quickly be overtaken by the power of the sea, especially when the cold-water temperatures are factored in.

Given the cold temperatures associated with this system, and the cold Pacific waters, hypothermia is a major concern, as always.

Though the large waves can be an extreme sight to some, the Coast Guard, along with its partner state and local agencies, urge people to not go near these areas if at all possible. The risk to life is too great during conditions such as these.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends boaters avoid taking to the water over the next few days, until the seas subside.

If it necessary to get underway mariners are urged to check that all of their safety equipment is in good condition.

There should be a personal flotation device onboard for each person, sized accordingly. If boaters will be traveling offshore, it is strongly recommended that there be an immersion suit or other full-body protection, as water temperatures will be cold, and hypothermia can quickly overtake the average person.

All boaters should also ensure that they have a working marine VHF radio on board to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 should an emergency arise. The Coast Guard reminds all mariners that channel 16 is an emergency frequency, and should be used for such. Misuse of channel 16 or broadcasting false distress calls can result in prison time, severe fines, and you could be liable for any costs incurred as a result of search efforts.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading. It is also recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if your plan should change.

Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.

As the storm season for Northern California begins, the Coast Guard also encourages all boaters to check the status of mooring and anchor lines, and replace worn lines if necessary. During strong winds and heavy seas, vessels can come loose from the pier or anchor due to worn lines, or not having enough lines attached to the pier or having a heavy enough anchor.

Vessels adrift can become hazardous to nearby vessels as they are tossed about, and can become hazards to navigation once the storm has passed. These vessels can also pose environmental risk as any fluids or chemicals onboard can spill or leak should the vessel break apart.

For more information on boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit

For more information on weather conditions, please visit


1 Comment

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One response to “Coast Guard warning

  1. Wow, when I read all that, I can’t even imagine anyone going into the ocean in spite of these warnings. But I know the fisherfolk have to do what they must in order to earn a living. Thinking about all this really puts the recent Blessing of the Fleet into perspective.

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