Huntington Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Town officials, the Town Harbormaster, Bay Contables and members of the Greater Huntington Council of Yachting and Boating Clubs met at Mill Dam Marina in Halesite on Thursday, May 27 to promote boating safety for boaters and kayakers.
Saturday, May 22 kicked off Huntington’s Boating Safety Week heading into Memorial Day weekend. May, June, July and August are the busiest times for boating on Long Island.
“We expect high volume turnout on the water this year. Our Harbormaster’s Office averaged one rescue per day last season for boaters and kayakers,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. “Kayakers: Don’t get out on the water before learning how to extricate yourself from an overturned kayak or how to get back into or on your kayak in deep water while you wait for rescue. Test yourself – not alone – but practice with a partner, sit in your kayak in shallow water, and turn the kayak over. Do not learn the hard way.”
“We Huntington residents are fortunate for our proximity to the waterfront, but that privilege comes responsibility. I want to thank the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs for helping Huntington meet one of our most important responsibilities: safety on the water. Each year the Boating Council sponsors an invaluable array of boating education classes for people of all ages and is a generous contributor of improvements to our waterfront and toward the well-being of boaters. Their public service is exemplary,” said Councilwoman Joan Cergol.
Councilman Ed Smyth reminded boaters that they can pick up spare lifejackets available at the Harbormaster’s office at the Halesite Marina, adding advice for kayakers, whom the Town has seen in increase in activity over the past year, “Kayakers should take note of offshore winds before getting out on the water — if you’re not careful, you may end up in Connecticut waters.”
Senior Harbormaster Fred Uvena warned that his team of Bay Constables are well-trained to spot intoxicated boaters and they are prepared to make BWI arrests. He warned against speeding and the dangerous wakes speeding boats create, also advising boaters to include baby aspirin in their first aid kits, and even ibuprofen as a precaution against anaphylactic shock from bee stings and other allergic responses that may occur over the waterways.
Boaters may call VHF Channel 16 for emergencies and VHF Channel 9 for pump-out service. The Harbormaster’s Office is located at 53 N. New York Avenue, Halesite, NY, open Monday through Saturday 8:30am to 4:30pm, office phone (631) 351-3255.
Jackie Martin of the Greater Huntington Council of Yachting and Boating Clubs reviewed highlights from Huntington’s 9th Annual Safe Boating Week, which was established after three children lost their lives in a preventable boating tragedy in 2012. She advised boaters, “you are responsible for your wake.”
The Harbormaster also reminded beachgoers of the reason dogs are not allowed on the sand at any beach, “Children play in the sand and you cannot clean up pet urine so please, respect your fellow residents and do not allow your dog on the sand, it’s unsanitary – keep them in the parking lot or on boardwalks.”
Supervisor Lupinacci also advised boaters and kayakers not to disturb the bird sanctuary at Hobart Beach, as landing boats and kayaks on the sand in the area of the preserve can have significant unintentional consequences for the endangered birds nesting there.
“Please heed the signs and fencing, stay away from the water and sand in the entire area located south of the parking lot during the birds’ mating season, which runs from early April through August.”
All trespassers in the sanctuary, including on foot, should be reported to the Department of Public Safety’s 24/7 emergency hotline at (631) 351-3234.