By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
Eric Bonzar – The Morning JournalThe Lorain Marine Patrol monitors the Black River in June 2015.
Despite bad weather for recreational boating, Lorain’s Marine Patrol kept busy during 2015, according to the Patrol’s annual report.
The Lorain Port Authority oversees the Marine Patrol and Patrol Commander Ed Favre gave the summary of 2015 operations for the Port Authority board, which applies for the state grant funding that helps pay for the local water safety officers.
The Patrol operated from April 12 to Nov. 6, with boat patrols and courtesy vessel safety inspections running from May 2 to Oct. 27.
Like 2014, last year was “not very good” as a boating season, the Patrol report said.
“Heavy early season rains and dominant northerly winds discouraged small boaters,” the report said. “We saw fewer boaters and assisted fewer vessels and persons in non emergency situations.”
However, search and rescue calls from 2014 to 2015 doubled to 14 and the Patrol rescued 17 people from potentially dangerous or life-threatening situations, the report indicated.
The Marine Patrol also increased its written safety inspections from 178 in 2014 to 254 last year. Spot checks also increased from 589 in 2014 to 660 last year.
The Marine Patrol made one arrest last year. There were 48 warnings for not obeying navigation rules; 47 warnings for boats not having proper registration; 40 warnings for careless, negligent or reckless operation; and 37 warnings for boat operators not having required visual distress signals.
Favre said the Patrol officers usually do not go out of their way to cite or arrest people, but issue warnings and assist with safety equipment when possible.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Ohio Division of Watercraft have increased performance expectations about safety and security along Ohio’s shoreline. Much of that emphasis is due to the Republican National Convention scheduled in Cleveland in summer 2016, Favre said.
This year, the Marine Patrol intends to replace its older, heat-generating lights with cooler and brighter LED lights on its patrol vessel. The Patrol seeks out equipment upgrades through the Ohio Division of Watercraft and other partners for free or at minimal expense.
“The Marine Patrol is mindful of limited budget and resources and strives to get the most out of both,” the report said. “We work hard at maintaining good relations with our partners,” including Lorain police and firefighters, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Vermilion Police Department, which also has a marine patrol.
In 2015, the Port Authority and Vermilion police each received state grants of $35,000 to pay for the respective marine patrols.
Last year, the other Lorain Marine Patrol officers were Mark Tomlin, Tom Davis, Todd Pierce, Keith Riggs, Jeremy Tavenner and Terry Stephens.