Shocking Coast Guard Safety Video Draws Fire

A boating-safety video produced by the U.S. Coast Guard and appearing on the USCG’s Boating Safety Channel on YouTube is drawing criticism from some in the marine industry who feel that its shocking content is confusing, gratuitous and a poor use of public-service funds.

The video, titled “Don’t Wreck Your Summer,” shows several boats rafted up, with young men and women drinking and partying (complete with record-spinning DJ) onboard and in the water. The fun ends abruptly when one of the revelers puts the triple outboards in gear, oblivious to the person bobbing in the water directly behind the transom. You can guess the horrific ending.

“It was like something from the cutting-room floor of a bad horror movie,” commented Capt. Lou Gainor, host of Nautical Talk Radio in Massachusetts, one of many people in the boating industry who feel that the “Hollywood-style” production is sensationalist and unrealistic, and that the subject of excessive drinking could have been handled more effectively and appropriately.

“We’re pleased that the USCG is continuing its efforts to promote boating safety; however, we are disappointed in their most recent PSA, as we see it creating more confusion than education for the boater,” said Carl Blackwell of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We believe the best way to encourage safe boating is through education, as an educated boater is a more confident boater, and confidence on the water equals more fun for all on the water. We’ve reached out to the USCG to share some of our own safe-boating research and marketing tools in the hopes of working together to develop boater communication that is more effective at educating the boater about safety.”

The Massachusetts Marine Trades Association also weighed in on the video, saying, “The Massachusetts recreational marine trades has long supported the USCG’s commitment to promoting safe boating. However, the cause would be far better served by depicting the reality of boating, which is a family-friendly form of recreation rather than an excuse for amateurs to abuse alcohol as depicted in the USCG YouTube video.”

Defenders of “Don’t Wreck Your Summer” may point out that younger audiences are more effectively reached and influenced via these these types of short, shocking YouTube videos, as opposed to “traditional” PSA messages. Indeed, a short video could be broadcast free to millions via cell phones and computers, resulting in a powerful message that ultimately reaches more people at less cost.

Note: The Coast Guard was contacted last week to defend the video, and New England Boating is awaiting its response, which we will publish.

What do you think?

Is the video effective, or over the top in terms of shock value? And could the money used to produce the video have been better spent? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

U. S. Coast Guard Video: (USCGBoatingSafety’s Channel, 30 seconds)


U. S. Coast Guard Video Uncut Version: (NASBLASafeBoating’s Channel, 68 seconds)