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Going "Virtual": How Do You Want Your Aids to Navigation?
US Coast Guard Wants to Hear from Boaters with 25-Question Survey

ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 31, 2015 – For recreational boaters, the waterway signposts known as aids to navigation are critical for a safe journey. But what if an aid to navigation (ATON) such as a floating buoy marking the edge a deep-water channel could only be seen on an electronic screen and not by the naked eye? Will recreational boaters benefit from these new "eATONs"? That's the question the US Coast Guard wants to find out with a 25-question online survey . A full look at the issue is found in the August/September issue of BoatUS Magazine at BoatUS.com/virtualnavigation.

On March 12, 2014 the USCG began operating 25 fully functioning "virtual" and "synthetic" eATONs in San Francisco waters with a goal to improved safety and efficiency. Some of these electronic waterway signposts mark the ship-traffic lanes outside the Golden Gate Bridge. The eATONs are only "visible" to vessels equipped with Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology that's currently found on large commercial vessels and a small portion of recreational boats.

Six electronic buoys or "eATONs" now mark ship-traffic lanes outside San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

Said BoatUS President Margaret Podlich, "Although the US Coast Guard recently had 12 public listening sessions, recreational boaters did not attend in large numbers. As a result, the agency now has an online survey to capture our viewpoints, and it's in every boater's interest to speak up."

"Unlike commercial vessels, recreational boats are much less likely to have sophisticated electronics needed to access some of the newer proposed systems, such as virtual buoys projected on electronic charts," said Podlich in testimony to the US House of Representatives subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. "There's still a significant need for the tried-and-true physical ATONs in areas where boaters operate, such shallow-draft harbors and channels."

Boaters are encouraged to take the short survey
before the end of the year.

Washington Invasive Species Council
Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Stencil Project

On April 16, 2015 the Washington Invasive Species Council (WISC) teamed up with the Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Department of Ecology and the Department of Transportation to paint the message "Stop Invasive Species Clean, Drain, and Dry your Boat" on the Lake Washington boat ramp in Kenmore. The goal of this messaging is to remind boaters and other lake-users of the simple steps they can take to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The WISC recently purchased a second stencil and is loaning them out to access managers throughout the state to paint launch sites.

Photo: Employees from Department of Fish & Wildlife, Ecology and the Washington Invasive Species Council applying the stencil at a Lake Washington Boat Launch in Kenmore. Left to right Jesse Schultz, Lizbeth Seebacher, and Raquel Crosier.

Contact Raquel Crosier at the Washington Invasive Species Council (360-902-3088 or raquel.crosier@rco.wa.gov) if you are interested in learning more about this project or would like to borrow the stencil.