Learn how to shoot flares, safely, Saturday

By Russell Sadler

The Power Squadron’s third annual Flare Shoot begins at 12:30 p.m. on Jackson’s Beach

By Russell Sadler

Special to The Journal

It’s dusk and you are returning from a successful weekend cruise in the islands up San Juan Channel headed for your berth and home.

You saw some eagles, seals and porpoises! Your boat has performed flawlessly! Suddenly your engine coughs twice and just quits. Restarting is futile.

The tide is drifting you toward rocks off Shaw Island. You see boats passing in the distance with their running lights on, but none of them seem to be aware of your trouble.

Flares! You can attract their attention with those flares the Coast Guard requires you to carry! And you suddenly realize you have no idea how flares work. You have never fired one!

You are not alone. The majority of boaters have never fired a flare for practice, much less when lives or property is at stake. You can do something about that Saturday, 12:30 p.m. on Jackson’s Beach.

The Friday Harbor Power Squadron, Friday Harbor Fire Department, Port of Friday Harbor and West Marine are sponsoring the third annual Flare Shoot at Jackson’s Beach.

Bring your expired flares, expired shells and your flare gun, any expired orange smoke flares and old fire extinguishers and practice firing them off in a safe, controlled environment. There will be experienced boaters from the Power Squadron and Friday Harbor firefighters available to help you.

The Flare Shoot is an official drill of the Power Squadron. The Coast Guard and the San Juan County Sheriff have been notified of the scheduled event.

Passing boaters will be notified by radio of a drill in progress. Without these precautions, firing off flares unless there is an actual emergency can bring large fines. So the Flare Shoot is a rare, organized, legal opportunity to safely get practice firing off outdated pyrotechnics.

The sponsors will also demonstrate new, more powerful SOLAS flares so boaters can compare the more costly flares with more traditional flares.

There will also be demonstrations of fire extinguishers and fitting of life jackets — especially for children 12 and younger who must now wear personal flotation devices aboard at all times.

The Flare Shoot celebrates National Safe Boating Week.