Spring and summer typically see Ohioans return to the state’s waterways and lakes.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 18 and Columbus Cabela’s are encouraging central Ohioans to prepare for the boating season and visit the Columbus Cabela’s store, located at 1650 Gemini Place, on Saturday, April 27, from 11 AM to 2 PM to get a free vessel safety check.

“We want to help make boating as safe as possible for you and your family and friends, through education,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has certified vessel examiners who will perform a free vessel safety check of your boat. This is a great chance to see if there are any issues with your boat for free and get them addressed without any consequences.”

Vessel safety checks allow boat owners to make recommended improvements to their boating safety equipment before launching their boats for the first time in a new boating and fishing season. These free inspections typically examine the condition of fire extinguishers, navigational lights, horns and distress signals to ensure they are in working order. Officers also check to make sure that the proper type, size and number of life jackets are aboard each boat as required by law to ensure the safety of all boat occupants. For boaters who cannot attend this free event, natural resources officers are available to perform courtesy vessel safety checks scheduled at the convenience of boaters by going to watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/offices.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft is responsible for managing Ohio’s 75 state parks and providing the finest outdoor recreational opportunities, including first-class boat services, facilities and law enforcement for users of Ohio’s waterways and public lands.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the civilian, uniformed volunteer component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Coast Guard. While the auxiliary is not directly involved in military or law enforcement activities, today, 32,000 volunteers donate thousands of hours of support that directly supplements the Coast Guard’s Maritime Domain Awareness missions, which include harbor patrols, vessel safety and inspections, public education, radio communications, search and rescue, and marine environmental protection. The over-arching mission of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is to augment the recreational boating safety mission of the U.S. Coast Guard as well as assisting with the security of our citizens, ports, waterways and coastal regions.

Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s is North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company. Founded in 1972 when avid young angler Johnny Morris began selling tackle out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri. Today the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations and more. In 2017, Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s to create a “best-of-the-best” experience with superior products, dynamic locations and outstanding customer service. Bass Pro Shops also operates White River Marine Group, offering an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors and has been named by Forbes as “one of America’s Best Employers.”

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