Ok, everyone can stop emailing me that “underway” was incorrectly separated into two words in my column last week. Just for the record, I wrote my column with “underway” as one word, but that was not how it appeared in print, as it was edited to “under way.” You have to keep in mind that nautical words are sometimes changed in the editing process, and this is understandable due to the peculiar nautical nomenclature. However, through the years that I have been a columnist, I have found that my editors have saved me more then when an editor would tweak a word to the way a landlubber would spell it.
[Editors Note: Very sorry, Capt. Mike and everybody!]
As you have probably heard by now, a local kayaker and not a landlubber is missing after planning to go kayaking in Newport Harbor. Marc Cross was reported missing on Aug. 4, and his car was located on the Balboa Peninsula. His plans were to paddle his kayak on a beautiful weather-perfect day, launching in Newport Harbor. Sadly, he has not been seen again.
Marc is a former Newport Beach lifeguard, and he is an experienced swimmer who knows the harbor and the ocean. In the late ’70s, Marc and I were on the swim team together at Orange Coast College, where he swam and I was a springboard diver.
A green kayak had been found floating in the ocean about a mile off Laguna Beach, reportedly on Aug. 4, and this week authorities finally confirmed that the watercraft belonged to Marc. The details of who found the kayak and why it took Newport Beach police so long to identify the boat are sketchy to me in time for this week’s column.
Any time an abandoned boat is found floating in the ocean, then an experienced boater will immediately think that someone might have fallen overboard. Most boaters will alert the Coast Guard, who will make a radio broadcast to boaters to be alert that someone maybe in need of help. The direction of our coastal winds will typically blow a lightweight kayak down the coast and onto shore. Therefore, either someone had to paddle the craft out to sea, or it fell off a larger boat.
I do not have substantiated information yet as to why the public was not notified sooner that a kayak was found, and the details of who found the kayak. It appears that the photo of the kayak does not show any signs of damage, perhaps ruling out a collision with another boat.
Marc’s family has created a “Please help find Marc Cross Facebook” at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/177960695605982 and anyone with information should call Det. Ryan Peters with the Newport Beach Police Department at 949-644-3779. There is always hope, and maybe I will be reporting a happy ending to this saga in my next column.
Tip for the week is while on the topic of boating safety, I disagree with a recent statement from the US Coast Guard that the number of boating deaths remains unacceptably high as reported in the Small Craft Advisory magazine published by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
The 2010 recreational boating statistics show that total boating fatalities were at an all-time low of only 672 while boating participation was at a record high of 32.4% of the population or 75 million people. If my math is correct, then 672 annual deaths divided by the 75 million people who participated in boating for the year equals 0.00000896 or 0.000896%. Meanwhile, Discovery News reports that nearly 200,000 people were hurt in accidents involving ladders, toilets and chainsaws. Toilets?
Give me a break as I think the US Coast Guard should be thanking the boaters and releasing positive statements instead of “the sky is falling.” Boating is safe compared to other outdoor activities, and I think that a few organizations might be emphasizing the negative aspects for them to maintain their funding . As Rags Laragione, president of the Maritime Institute, says, education is the key – so let’s get educated. This is where the funding dollars should be directed for the recreational boater.
Many boating accidents are caused by operator inattention and lack of knowledge of the right-of-way rules. Boater education about right-of-way rules and operator responsibility should be in the forefront, followed by the proper use of lifejackets, proper clothing on a boat, and footwear – do not overlook footwear on a boat. As a professional Captain, my crew is not allowed to step on the dock without footwear, and at times for safety purposes, I have overridden the owner’s desire that no one wear shoes while inside the yacht.
And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time and replayed on Sunday at 10 am Pacific. Join Chandler Bell and me as we talk about “all things boating.” You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, Itouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at www.BoathouseTV.com or www.BoathouseRadio.com.
Until next week, Safe Voyages!