Duval ranks 14th for most boating accidents in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Saturday kicks off National Boating Safety month with free safety demonstrations by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. According to the Coast Guard, there are 70,000 registered boaters in Jacksonville and very few have ever taken a lesson safety.

"You have to be responsible," said Lisa Almeida of Freedom Boat Club. "You have to understand that you are the captain of your boat."

According to the Freedom Boat Club, there were 13 reported accidents in Duval County in 2013. Additionally, there were injuries but no deaths. The property damage cost was $684,000.

Almeida, better known as Lisa the Boatanista, bought her first boat at age 24.

"When you are on the water you have so much joy and you see the city from a completely different perspective," said Almeida.

Jacksonville's Dock Master, Captain Jim Suber, wants to make sure boaters stay afloat with their safety when they take to the water.

According to the 2013 Coast Guard Office, 560 boaters died in 2013 and 77 percent of those deaths were caused by drowning. Of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Suber is telling First Coast Boaters to stay alert, stay sober and stay on top of your safety equipment.

The Boatanista had to find her anchor quickly when she found herself in a state of emergency when her engine stopped.

"My girlfriend and I were headed towards the [Jacksonville] Landing and the engine quit and we were getting pushed by the current and headed towards the wall at the landing," said Almeida.

Boating safety courses taught Lisa how to spring into action during a water emergency.

"Driving a boat is not like driving a car. You have wind, you have current and other people to watch out for," said Almeida.

Suber says it's time for residents to take advantage of boating safety ahead of Memorial day weekend- the start of the busy boating season.

"This city is blessed with the Saint John's river and our water way system is second to none."


Sunday, May 18 Boating Lessons

- The Coast Guard Auxiliary will offer courtesy vessel safety checks from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Main Street Boat Ramp, 3788 Main Street, Middleburg, Florida and at Old Ferry Road Boat Ramp, 2231 Old Ferry Road, Green Cove Springs, Florida, 32043.

- The Coast Guard Auxiliary will offer courtesy vessel safety checks and answer boating safety questions from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lighthouse Park Ramp, 442 Ocean Vista Ave., St. Augustine, Florida, 32080.

- The Coast Guard Auxiliary will offer courtesy vessel safety checks and answer boating safety questions at Goodby's Creek Boat Ramp and Julington Creek Boat Ramp in Jacksonville, Florida.


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