Members of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Shenango Valley, were out Sunday morning at the Mahaney Recreation Area docks doing free boat-safety inspections for those heading out onto the waters of Shenango Lake.

The inspections, which are not mandatory, aim to make sure that boats have all the proper equipment necessary in case trouble should arise. That includes making sure the boat is equipped with personal floatation devices, fire extinguishers and navigation lights.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary also checks that the capacity of the boat is not exceeded and that there is a bucket or receptacle of some sort for bailing water.

If the boat passes all the requirements on the checklist, it receives a sticker certifying that it passed Coast Guard inspection. If a boat does not meet all the requirements, there are no fines, just a notification of what must be done to pass inspection next time.

“Usually the problem is people don’t have enough preservers or they have more people in the boat than they should,” said Ken Beatty, West Middlesex, who is a flotilla staff officer and vessel examiner.

During the morning about seven boats put in with four of them stopping to be inspected. Of those four, three passed inspection. The boat that did not pass lacked a fire extinguisher.

The local Coast Guard Auxiliary will inspect about 400 boats over the course of the summer, according to Beatty. Many of the boats come from fishing tournaments, like the Keystone Bass Buddy Circuit tournament that will be held at Shenango Lake this weekend.

People come from all around to fish, water-ski, tube or to just relax on the lake. Many of the boats that get inspected during the summer aren’t local, said Beatty.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary, which is the uniformed civilian arm of the Coast Guard that assists in non-law enforcement matters, also runs public boating-safety courses during the summer.

“We’re involved with public education, safety checks and patrols, youth programs and search and rescue,” said Shirley Baker, Hubbard, district staff officer for personal service.

A course on boat handling will be held at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at Shenango Campground Amphitheater.

For information about Shenango Lake conditions, boaters can call 724-962-4384.

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