Guam - If you are a seasoned mariner or just getting a feel for your sea legs, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind to help pave the way for the month of May's National Safe Boating Week to boat responsibly. The ocean is vast and stretches on for miles. Encountering a problem while out at sea is not something anyone wishes for but it is something that all can plan for by taking the necessary precautions to try to prevent.

The U.S. Coast Guard provides opportunities for boat safety checks, and boating education classes throughout the year, kicking off National Safe Boating Week with free boat safety inspections this weekend and over the next several days. Leading the way to ensuring boating safety is division commander for Saipan and Guam U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Programs Jack Ary, who said, "When we do a vessel safety check we look at things like first off make sure it has current registration we also go back and check haul identification numbers check the capacity of the vessel see what its listed for how many passengers that they can go."

Boat safety checks also ensure all proper equipment is on board from anchors to a throwable floatation device, as well as the overall condition of the boat itself, testing lights and electronics on board. Once a check is completed and you are ready to hit the open waters additional safety measure need to be taken.

First and foremost is always wear a life jacket. Life jackets have done more to save more mariners in distress than any other piece of safety gear that they can bring out not to say that the others are any less important. He said, "If you are going out and you know where you are going to be leave a float plan with somebody, it's just letting somebody know where you are going, what time you are leaving, when time you are expected to be back how many people you have with you."

Leaving a float plan with someone so if you are not back by the time expected authorities can be notified. If an emergency does occur while aboard a boat do not depend on a cell phone. The U.S. Coast Guard Rescue 21, dubbed 911 for mariners is ready and prepared to assist. While many mariners on island regularly tune their radios into Channel 68, the U.S Coast Guard does not have capabilities to monitor that channel and stresses that all mariners should tune into VHF Channel 16.

Ary said, "Anytime their underway they should always keep it on Channel 16, the Coast Guard monitors Channel 16 and with the new Rescue 21 system that they have all over Guam with two transmitters here and one up in Saipan, you are pretty much covered anywhere out to 25 miles of the CNMI."

It is important for all mariners to know that VHF radios installed after 1998 are capable of using the digital selective call, with a push of a button it will send out distress to other DSC capable vessels and rebroadcasts that signal in an emergency.

"The wide open waters can be an enjoyable experience. But an unexpected mishap can turn it into a nightmare. So be sure to have your boat checked and all the emergency gear aboard to ensure safe sailing for you and your passengers," he said.