Dramatic helicopter rescues, high speed boat chases and
tours of a high-tech fully-operational US Coast Guard cutter are among the
highlights of this year’s National Safe Boating Week Kick-Off, set for May 21
on St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie waterfront.
six years ago as a small demonstration of boating safety gear has become the
largest event of its kind ever held in the Virgin Islands, and it’s gained
national recognition," says Bob Armstrong, public affairs officer for the
Coast Guard Auxiliary in St. Thomas.
Last year, over
1,000 visitors attended this very special event. This year, organizers expect
double this attendance due to several spectacular air and sea demonstrations, a
myriad of displays and many dockside activities.
will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will include tours of a 110-foot Coast
Guard Cutter, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement 4-engine pursuit boats, VI
National Parks Service chase boat, a 47-foot Coast Guard rescue/pursuit boat,
and a lifeboat from Carnival Cruise Lines.
The real thrill is
the helicopter rescue demonstrations performed by the elite US Coast Guard
Search and Rescue Team. The first demonstration starts at 11 a.m. There will
also be good-guy, bad-guy chases around the harbor using the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement 4-engine chase boats and their skilled boat handlers.
"This year is
extra special in that we will have aerial demonstrations of the Blackhawk
helicopter, also from Immigration and Customs Enforcement," Armstrong
At the dock, there
will be over 20 displays of marine safety equipment, an inflated survival life
raft, environmental displays from Coral World and UVI, including a touch-tank
of sea creatures from UVI’s Marine Sciences Center, CPR demonstrations by the
American Red Cross, and specialized equipment from the VI Army National Guard,
St. Thomas Rescue, and demonstrations from the VI Fire Department.
A daylong raffle
will give-away nearly a hundred prizes from local merchants, hotels,
restaurants, and local and national airlines and cruise lines. This year’s
raffle will benefit the local Coast Guard Auxiliary, which is the civilian arm
of the US Coast Guard.
hot dogs and soft drinks will be provided free to the public. There will also
be live entertainment.
central theme of the event will always be boating safety, it has become much
more than that," Armstrong says. "This year, May 21, is also Armed
Forces Day. Not only is it a day to showcase the assets of the US Coast Guard,
it is also a day that our population-at-large has the opportunity to say
‘thank-you’ to our men and women in uniform."
concludes, "Plan now to bring the entire family out to learn about boating