USCG reminds boaters
to put water safety first
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS–U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary member Dr. Bill Fackler
gave business leaders a primer on boating safety at the Seven
Points-Tool Chamber of Commerce Chapter breakfast meeting April
His presentation was both entertaining and informative.
Flotilla 5-14 members routinely conduct safety patrols on
weekends and holidays year round and participate in search and
rescue operations when called upon on a voluntary basis. Ongoing
member training keeps these volunteers sharp and professional in
their dealings with the public.
There are currently 22 members in this community service
organization, after its membership split to form a new flotilla
at Richland Chambers Reservoir, which is growing nicely, Fackler
Membership is primarily made up of people who love boating, “and
I like the uniforms,” the former pediatrician said.
In addition its members teach boating safety classes the fourth
Saturday of the month at its headquarters near Don’s Port, March
through September. These are mostly attended by youths 13 to 18
years of age who wish to operate a boat or personal watercraft,
Upon completion of the day-long course and passage of a written
test, they are presented with a temporary operator’s
Its members also provide free voluntary vessel safety checks
during the boating season.
Members meet monthly for training, special projects and
In addition to reviewing state and federal boating regulations
for Cedar Creek Lake, he added the following precautions, born
of sad experience:
• Always take a fully charged cell phone with you when you go
out on a boat.
• Have a lake map on board and mark where you live on it for
your guests, include your name and address. This helps the safe
return of your boat , should it ever goes missing, he said. Keep
all in a waterproof bag with your telephone number.
• If you’re a boater, wear your life jacket whether you like it
or not. So buy one that you like. Being pitched over the side is
likely to happen when you least expect it to and wearing a life
jacket can make the crucial difference, he said. Make sure each
passenger wears a life jacket that fits. Law says everyone 12
and under must wear one.
• Test your horn before you go out. You should be able to sound
a distress call with it. If all else fails don’t forget to wave
your arms like this to signal you are in distress, And he
flapped his arms out to the side of his body.
• Additional recommended equipment to have on board - an anchor
and 100-ft. line, paddle, bailing device, visual distress
• Read the water and weather, before you go out. Keep an eye on
weather changes and act accordingly.
Flotilla 5-14 members (from left) Chuck Abbott and wife Betty,
Al Harding (the voice of Coastie, a mechanized character) and
Bill Fackler present a safety program to 75 kids and several
grown-ups during spring break at “Whatz Up” entertainment park
in Seven Points, in conjunction with The Library at Cedar Creek
He told a story of a time when he and his crew mate disregarded
this piece of advice.
They were in a sailboat race and had already completed the first
race, when they noted dark clouds in the southwest. But they
decided to go around again as everyone else did.
“We made the turn at the buoy when a sudden wind caught the sail
and knocked the boat over,” he said. What follows is from his
written report of the incident:
“John (his crew mate) grabbed the motor mount and I grabbed the
boarding ladder. We both hung on for dear life as the boat sped
along with the mast probably 30 degrees from the water. The
sheets were still cleated down and the boat was dragging us
through the water so fast it was hard to hang on. I could see
the keel as it came up out of the water.
Finally, I could hang on no longer and let go. Then amazingly, a
young man on a PWC (person water craft) approached. (I think he
was our Guardian Angel). I climbed on with great difficulty and
asked him to take me to the low side of the boat, where I
reached over and uncleated the sheets. The boat righted itself
and John and I struggled to climb on using the boarding ladder.
The wind and waves were fierce. The mainsail was split from the
mast on back and the Genoa was shredding along the leech. I
managed to crawl forward and roll up the jib’s furling mechanism
and then struggled to lower and furl the mainsail. The outboard
motor started on the second pull (bless it) and we headed home.”
“If we hadn’t had our life jackets on, one or both of us would
have drowned,” Fackler told chamber members.
One other story Fackler related was to illustrate the need of
sobriety while boating.
He and a fellow auxiliary member saw a man bailing water from an
aluminum John boat with a paper cup. By the time, Fackler’s
vessel came along side the man was in the water and his life
jacket is floating 30 feet away.
“It was hard to hoist him into the boat, as he had been drinking
from that paper cup and was tipsy,” Fackler said.
“We towed his boat slowly over to Harbor Lite, the while the
game warden had been monitoring our radio transmissions and met
us at the landing.
“The game warden talking into his cell phone says, ‘You’ve got
to be kidding.’ It turned out that there was an outstanding
arrest warrant against the man they had rescued.”
As an aside, Fackler added that the flotilla does not look for
lost boats that come untied. If one should be located, it will
be towed to the Tarrant Regional Water District station at the
spillway, and the District will attempt to locate the owner.
“We’re not a towing or a taxi service,” Fackler said.
Cedar Creek Lake Regulations
Federal & State rules
• Tx Number and current Decal and registration card must be on
board with you.
• Horn or whistle
Lights: red/green bowlight or sidelights and 360-degree white
light at stern on boats under 39.4 feet. Larger boats add
• Rearview mirror or observer required to tow skiers
• Life jackets for each person on board plus a throwable
cushion. 13 and under must wear jackets.
• Fire extinguishers for motor boats
• Boater education course to operate power boat including PWC
for anyone born after Sept. 1, 1984.
• Life jacket must be worn on PWC.
• Must stop and render aid at accidents and report them
• Unlawful to drive boat while intoxicated, ski or use PWC after
sundown and before sunup, circle a boat or swimmer, anchor so as
to impede traffic, endanger property
• Boats within 100 feet of swimmers, other boats, piers, shore,
etc. must proceed at idle speed only.