The Town of Huntington’s 4th annual Safe Boating Waterfront Festival kicked off Sunday in Halesite with live music, games for kids and opportunities to learn about safely navigating the waters of Long Island and beyond.
The event at Mill Dam Ball Field is part of a weeklong boating safety event organized by the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht & Boating Clubs in conjunction with the Town of Huntington. Many free and discounted boating safety classes are available to experienced boaters and novices.
Safe Boating Week was originally driven by a July 4, 2012, accident in Oyster Bay that killed three Long Island children when the boat they were on capsized.
“It made people very aware that at any moment a tragic accident can occur on a boat,” said Jackie Martin, executive officer of the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs. “This was an incident where people were only seeking to have a nice time with their friends . . . it turned into an absolute nightmare and a loss of life for three small children, which devastated their three families.”
The annual educational event has grown over the years, with organizers always seeking new ways to teach the public about safe boating.
The organization, with support of Assemb. Andrew Raia (R-Northport) and Chuck Lavine (D-Glen Cove), has drafted legislation that would require people of all ages to complete a boat safety course. Currently, state law only requires those born May 1, 1995, or later (people age 21 or younger) to do so — and that’s not good enough, said Stephanie Quarles, who will be officially made commodore of the council on Thursday.
“We want a quicker phase-in, so more people have to be educated,” Quarles said Sunday at the festival.
The local series of events coincide with National Boating Safety Week. This year, it started Saturday with free vessel safety exams and checks conducted by the Coast Guard Auxillary and the U.S. Power Squadrons.
The week will conclude with Meet the Commodores Night 2016 at the Northport Yacht Club on Thursday.
For more information on free and discounted boating safety classes, visit: huntingtonboatingcouncil.org.