The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

44 inches of snow means shovel time

Coast Guard warns boat owners to keep loads light


Valdez Star photo

Even large boats need shoveling after heavy snows.

The US Coast Guard issued its yearly warning to boat owners and caretakers in the Valdez Small Boat Harbor to keep their boats shoveled and free of snow.

“We encourage boat owners to be proactive about it,” Lt. j.g. Allison Ferko said in a telephonic interview.

Valdez has received over three feet of snow since the beginning of November and a total of 44.4 inches since the snows began to fall in October. While the amount of snow is no surprise – Valdez is world-renowned for its snow – every year at least one boat in its harbor sinks after large snowfalls.

According to a press release issued by the Coast Guard last week, two boats sank from improper snow loads in 2009.

Costs to clean up pollution from sinkings and refloat boats is expensive according to the Coast Guard - $10 to $30 thousand dollars. Fines up to $40,000 per day can also be levied.

“The boat owner would be responsible,” for cleanup costs and fines, Ferko said.

It is cheaper and less hassle to keep vessels shoveled than to risk sinking, even for out-of-town owners.

The Coast Guard recommends designating a caretaker if you can’t keep up with snow removal yourself.

“Have somebody there to shovel before-hand,” she said.

Photo courtesy Marine Safety Unit Valdez/US Coast Guard

Don’t let this happen to you, shovel your boat, the Coast Guard warns.

It also takes a proactive approach towards snow removal.

“Our unit has a group of people that checks on the small boat harbor,” Ferko said. “They walk the docks.”

If a vessel appears in danger of not staying afloat, the Coast Guard notifies the harbor master so that efforts can be made to contact owners to make sure snow is removed before it sinks.

“We’ll work with the harbor master to make sure boats are out of danger,” Ferko said, but in the end, all responsibility falls to owners and caretakers.

Don’t forget, as of Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service was predicting…more snow for this week.


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