By Jay Lloyd
CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) -- As another summer boating season gets into high gear, pleasure boaters are enjoying getaways on local waters.
Meanwhile, some of my fellow US Coast Guard veterans and I got together recently at the Cape May base to recall incidents that serve as vivid warnings.
Coast Guard veterans often see lives lost or nearly lost. Here are some of their real-life stories that highlight the importance of boating safety.
Jim Khight remembered a competitive swim at Cape May, accompanied by kayaks, when the wind and the water suddenly got nasty.
"A lot of the swimmers were going down, the kayaks were flipping up," he recalls. He says the organizers had ignored a pre-race recommendation to cancel the event due to the expected weather.
Still, the Coast Guard Auxiliary was on hand, and all were saved.
Steve Smith recounted a busy day in stormy San Francisco Bay, when some sailboats capsized and their crews made the questionable decision to try to swim for shore -- with both fatal and near-fatal results.
Smith notes that those people put themselves at greater risk by ignoring a basic tenet of boating safety:
"Sticking with the boat was the main thing they could do until rescue craft could come and get them."
So, use common sense, follow the rules, and enjoy your summer getaways afloat.
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