Boating safety first; catching salmon second

EVERETT — Tony Ford knows it all comes down to fish.

He knows that the salmon run has been strong this year, and also knows that means more boats in the water.

And so Ford, a public education spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, is a little wary about Saturday and Sunday.

Thousands may head into Possession Sound to participate in the 16th annual Everett Coho Derby. The increased traffic has some officials urging caution.

“There’s an increased risk of injury, no question about it,” Ford said.

The derby may mark the last hectic weekend during what has been a very busy season.

For instance, in Everett, 16,900 boaters paid to use the 10th Street Boat Launch from May to August, according to the Port of Everett. Last year, just 12,000 boats did the same.

“We have been extremely busy down there,” said Lisa Lefeber, a port spokeswoman. “From what we’ve been told the humpy fishing has been very good.”

Lefeber said despite the traffic there have been few accidents. She said a pedestrian who was hospitalized after being struck by a boat backing into the water last weekend was an exception to the rule.

Washington has required boating safety training in recent years. The state signed into law in 2005 rules that mandate boaters 20 years old and younger pass a safety exam.

Beginning Jan. 1, all boaters 30 years and younger must hold the safety card, which costs $10 and is good for life. The card will be required by 2014 for all boaters born after Jan. 1, 1955, the age cut-off.

Many have embraced the program, including Walter Eckman, who sits on the board of the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club.

“I think everybody should take the test, whether they’re 6 or 100,” said Eckman, 62 of Marysville.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers safety classes on a monthly basis, Ford said. Most officials expect to see a drop in the number of boaters after this weekend’s derby, although an extended salmon run could upset those predictions.

“It’s the lure of salmon,” Ford said. “It truly is.”

Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, arathbun@heraldnet.com

Everett Coho Derby

The derby takes place Saturday and Sunday. All fish must be weighed at the 10th Street Boat Launch by 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 and available at many boating and sporting good stores. Go to www.everettcohosalmonderby.com for full ticket information and derby rules.

Boating safety

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary holds classes that fulfill state boating safety requirements.

The day-long course costs $25, covering the expense of a training book that can be shared by up to three family members.

Upcoming classes will be held at the Milltown Sailing Association, 410 14th St., Everett, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, Nov. 21 and Dec. 12.

To register, contact Dick Gibson at 425-670-0364 or by e-mail at rgibson701@comcast.net.

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