After the tragic fire on the dive boat Conception off Southern California that killed 34 people, here are some questions you might want to ask before you get on a new boat yourself, from The Los Angeles Times:
The thing to remember is that when you step aboard a vessel, “you are leaving the safety of land,” said John Higgins, harbor master for the Ventura Port District and a 23-year Harbor Patrol veteran. “You are putting yourself in a vulnerable position. “You can’t dial 911 and somebody gets there in three to five minutes the way they do on land.”
The best way to stay safe, Higgins said, is to be vigilant when evaluating a commercial boat or ship, and be doubly vigilant — especially about the weather — if you’re going out on a recreational vessel with a friend, family or an acquaintance.
If you’re going out on a commercial vessel, Higgins said, “the key things really are understanding where you’re going, what the distance offshore is and working with reputable companies. Reputable companies all go through an annual Coast Guard inspection. Their vessels are documented. The captains are licensed.”
If you’re standing on the dock and deciding on the spot, ask to see the vessel’s certificate of inspection, which will tell you when it was last inspected and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard . The Coast Guard requires commercial vessel operators to keep a valid certificate of inspection aboard and accessible.
But you can learn much more if you do a little studying at home first.
Once you know a vessel’s name, you can check its history and details through a U.S. Coast Guard database known as the Port State Information Exchange. To start, click on “PSIX Vessel Search,” then type in the vessel’s name. If you happen to know what nation’s flag it sails under, that will narrow the search.
In some cases, the database can tell you a lot. For instance, if you search for the ship Carnival Horizon, you’ll see that it was built in 2018, sails under the Panamanian flag, is 1,062 feet long and received its most recent Coast Guard Certificate of Compliance (good for a year) on May 18. Read more: