The Coast Guard Auxiliary works to keep boaters safe on the St. Johns River | Sports & Recreation

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The Coast Guard Auxiliary works to keep boaters safe on the St. Johns River
The Coast Guard Auxiliary works to keep boaters safe on the St. Johns River

On the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida - Coast Guard Auxiliary members Whit Vick and Cris Vonderheide spent last Saturday doing what they love: getting out on the water and volunteering their expertise in keeping area boaters safe. Whit and Cris were assisting the Coast Guard in verifying the location and condition of navigation markers for the entrance and channel into Goodby’s Creek from the St. Johns River. The Coast Guard and private organizations place markers to assist boaters in navigating shallow waters. These markers are often marked on nautical charts and in GPS chartplotters. Strong current, storms, and collisions from boats can move or destroy markers creating a potential navigational hazard. Checking navigational markers is an ongoing job. The Coast Guard often calls upon their organization of volunteers, the Auxiliary, to assist in this Coast Guard Mission by recording the existence, position, and condition of navigational markers. The information gathered is provided to the Coast Guard to determine if any corrective action is required. Checking ATONs, the acronym for aids to navigation, is just one of the many support missions the Auxiliary provides to the Coast Guard. In addition, the Auxiliary conducts safety patrols on the St. Johns River and assists with maintaining security zones during special events like air shows and fireworks displays. Off the water, the Auxiliary conducts boating safety classes, distributes safe boating materials to local marinas and marine dealers and offers free vessel examinations for required safety equipment to the general boating public. Whit and Chris are members of Flotilla 14-8 founded in 1969 at the Florida Gun and Tackle Club on San Jose Boulevard. Auxiliary volunteers come from all walks of life and boating experiences. Some members volunteer their boats for use as “facilities” to conduct patrols. Auxiliary volunteers all share a passion for keeping boating fun and safe. For more information about the USCG Auxiliary, visit where you will also find a link to follow us on facebook.

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