A designated skipper can keep your July 4 celebration afloat


Saturday is July 4, the day on which we celebrate our independence.

Saturday also is a day on which as many as 50 boaters will die nationwide, with perhaps 50 percent of those fatalities alcohol-related, according to the Boat Owners Association of the United States.

If you are going boating during the holiday weekend, be vigilant -- not only be aware of your actions, but also those of boaters around you.

The Coast Guard enforces a federal law that sets a blood alcohol level of .10 percent as evidence of intoxication. Maryland enforces levels of .08 for operating under the influence and .10 for operating while intoxicated.

"The concept of a sober, designated driver has been very effective on the highway," said Richard Schwartz, president of BOAT/U.S., the largest organization of recreational boaters in the country. "We're encouraging boaters to adopt [a designated skipper] on the water."

The Natural Resources Police and state, county and municipal units again plan to step up enforcement during the holiday weekend.

Play it safe and pick a designated skipper -- for the holidays and for any time you go out.

* Starting Wednesday, all boaters who use ramp facilities or trailer parking areas owned by Baltimore County must display a daily or annual permit sticker on vehicle or trailer. Sites included are Rocky Point Park, Cox's Point Park, Merritt Point Park, Inverness Park and Turners Station Park. Call (410) 887-3780 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

* On Tuesday, the OC Princess will initiate afternoon nature cruises to watch whales, dolphins and birds in their natural habitat off the Atlantic Coast. The three-hour cruises will depart Tuesday through Saturday at 4 p.m. from Shantytown pier in West Ocean City. Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling (410) 213-0926 or (800) 457-6650.

* Morgan Stinemetz, an instructor for the Annapolis Sailing School, has been awarded a rescue medal by US Sailing (formerly United States Yacht Racing Union) for a 45-second recovery of a crew member who went overboard while racing on Sarasota Bay in Florida.

When Bruce Kestin went overboard, Stinemetz immediately tacked his 27-foot sloop, with all sheets still in place. Upon reaching Kestin's position in the water, the boat was tacked again, bringing the stern to Kestin, who climbed aboard by the lowered outboard motor (which was not in operation).

This method is called the quick stop drill.

* Ducks Unlimited enhanced a record 261,522 acres of North American habitat during 1991. Another 267,779 acres were secured by the non-profit organization for future habitat development work.

* The Ocean City Guide Service might be the answer to low-budget, specialized fishing at the ocean this summer. The ,, service pairs guides with customers who want to fish inshore, offshore or in the back bays. For more information, call (301) 289-5520.

Prices range from $950 a day for six persons to fish the canyons for marlin on a 48-footer to $100 a day for three persons to fish the back bays for a half-day. Baits, rods and reels are included in the fee, but meals and drinks are separate.

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