Wednesday, June 8, 2016

6 Things You Might Not Know About the Coast Guard in Oswego

Did you know that there's a United States Coast Guard station right here in Oswego? Maybe you've bumped into a "Coastie" in the grocery store and not even known. Well, the Coast Guard Station Oswego is a small boat station within the Sector Buffalo area of responsibility and is right in our own backyards.

Recently, I had the privilege of touring the station and meeting Rob Kring, a Senior Enlisted Reserve Advisor for the Coast Guard Reserve. Rob has lived and worked in Oswego with his family since 2009. He is very knowledgable and it was truly a pleasure to get to know him!

Below are 6 things you should know about the Coast Guard Oswego Station. And, now that it is officially boating season, some of this information could one day save your life...

1. Their Mission in Oswego

The Coast Guard Station Oswego's main missions are Search and Rescue and Law Enforcement. They are staffed by two duty sections that stand a two day on and two day off duty schedule. They are always ready to respond to mariners in distress on Lake Ontario, which even includes ice rescue in the winter months. And, this happens more than you think as they don't just cover Oswego. Their area of responsibility extends from Sodus Bay to Cape Vincent and out to the Canadian Border. 

2. How They Can Help You

They saved Oscar during the Man Over Board (MOB) drill. Oscar looks thin but he actually weighs 185 pounds!

The Coast Guard is ready to help when you are in distress on Lake Ontario or even on land (they have saved several from the breakwall leading to the Lighthouse). The most important thing to tell them right away is your position and what your distress is. Knowing this first helps them gather the proper resources to assist you and if cellphone reception is lost before they gather more information at least they are able to now locate you. 

You can reach the Coast Guard on Channel 16 VHF/FM marine radio. They have watchstanders that staff the radio room and also a command center in Buffalo 24/7. If you don't have a radio, you can reach them directly by calling 315-343-1551 or can simply dial 911 for an operator. The Coast Guard Station is located at 1 Lake St. in Oswego, next to Wright's Landing Marina.

3. What They Want Boaters to Know

One of the most important things to consider before you even leave the dock is, have I checked my boat's safety equipment? The Coast Guard recommends asking these questions before taking off...

- Do I have enough life jackets in good condition for everyone on the boat? They informed me that someone can get hypothermia even in 80 degree water!

- Do I have flares and a sound producing device? 

- Do my navigation lights work properly?

- Is my marine radio working? Storms come quickly out on Lake Ontario, so knowing weather conditions via radio is crucial, not to mention contacting the Coast Guard if you happened to be in distress.

The Coast Guard conducts safety checks on their boats every single day to ensure they are always ready to respond to anything. 

4. Don't Be Afraid to Contact Them

Keep in communication with the Coast Guard. Many times a good samaritan (another boater) will see a boat in distress and assist them before the Coast Guard arrives on scene. If this happens, be sure to let the Coast Guard know they are safe, or else the Coast Guard will keep searching for them. 

As mentioned above, the Coast Guard can be reached  on Channel 16 VHF/FM marine radio and by calling them directly at 315-343-1551.

5. They Take Pride in the Oswego County Community

The Coast Guard Station Oswego participating in the Dragon Boat Race
The Coast Guard men and women are just like you and I. They have members that are coaches on kids sports teams, volunteer for community outreach programs, and participate in events like the 'Dragon Boat' races. 

I met one 'Coastie' who loved the area because he is big on snowmobiling and loved the snow. On the other hand, I met a new 'Coastie' who had just arrived from California in late April, fresh from the academy. She was out on the water one day when it was 50 degrees and windy and asked if this was how it felt in the winter. I'm sure they all got a laugh out of that one!

These men and women usually spend five years here in Oswego and then are off somewhere new. One of the men I met had only one month left then he was off to Cape Cod. Their furthest member comes all the way from the Island of Trinidad and Tobago, where their lowest average temperature in the winter is 77 degrees!

Everyone I met while at the station was so welcoming and friendly. I was told that any 'Coastie' you run into while out and about in Oswego would be proud to shake your hand and talk to you about their services and what they stand for. So, don't be afraid to welcome them to our community too!

6. They Have a REALLY Cool Boat

One last thing, their boat is extremely high tech and really fun! They took me out on the 45ft. RBM (Response Boat Medium) for some drills and little did I know I would have such an unforgettable experience. 

The 45' is a twin jet drive boat that is powered by two turbo-charged Detriot Diesel engines. Two cool things about this boat: it is self-righting meaning if they capsized, the boat is built to "flip" itself back over, and they can actually dock sideways by moving the joystick port or starboard directions!

While I was on the boat, they performed a man over board exercise (click for video), and even practiced maneuvering the boat by going very fast and turning sharply. That boat turns on a dime!

I also got to get behind the wheel of the boat...and by wheel I mean joysticks. The Coxswain’s and navigator’s seats are actually equipped with propulsion and steering controls (joystick, tiller, trim/roll joystick) for boat operations; so no steering wheel here.

What a fun experience! 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I'd like to thank everyone at the Coast Guard Station Oswego for the tour and awesome boating experience. You're all very brave and when it comes to Lake Ontario safety, we know we can turn to you! 

For more information about the Coast Guard Station Oswego click here.
For information on boating safety, canalling, and the locks in Oswego County click here. 

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bird Fest is Back!

Have you noticed the birds chirping and flying overpast? They're happy it's warm out and so am I! This time of year they are traveling North, but not until they visit us in Oswego County. 

2015 Derby Hill Bird Fest
Derby Hill Bird Observatory is located in Mexico, NY along the shores of Lake Ontario and is considered one of the premier hawk watches in the Northeastern United States! Not only does it attract hundreds of birders and hikers each year but an average of 40,000 raptors are counted each spring at this location. One could say it's a hot spot for birding while also giving amazing views of Lake Ontario. 

Hawks, eagles, and vultures are the main attraction at Derby Hill, but impressive numbers of snow geese, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, blue jays and baltimore orioles can also be seen migrating here. Take a look at the recent bird sightings today!

BIRD FEST: May 14, 2016, Mexico NY

If you're up for a nice hike with an exceptional view of the lake and plenty of bird species to look for then check out Derby Hill this Spring or even this Saturday, May 14 for Bird Fest!

Bird Fest, sponsored by the Onondaga Audubon, will be Saturday, May 14 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The free event will feature guided nature walks, educational exhibits, kids' activities, live birds of prey, vendors, prize drawings, a silent auction, and a BBQ!  Plus, you can also hold and pet extraordinary birds! 

Logan Waterman of Rome, NY holds a Lanner Falcon at Bird Fest. Photo Credit:
Brandon Butkins of Fabius, NY pets a Barn Owl at Bird Fest. Photo Credit:

The sanctuary is located at the top of the hill on a bluff overlooking the lake. This is the location of the main (north) lookout. A series of trails also start here.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

4 Indoor Winter Hot Spots to Check Out

1. Kallet Theater
Stop by and watch a newly released movie in an old fashioned theater dating back to the 1930's. For $30 you get: 2 movie tickets, a large pizza, 2 small popcorn's, and 2 sodas. That's a steal! You can even switch it up and get the beer and wine package for a little extra.

This unique theater located right downtown in Pulaski always has something going on. The theater hosts comedians, live music entertainment, movie nights, laser tag and even a "paint and sip" themed night called Kallet Spirited Canvases. 

Upcoming Events:
December 10th: Decorate a Snowman Wine Bottle at Kallet Spirited Canvases night.
December 11th: Come listen to Fran Cosmo, a former singer of Boston, perform.
December 19th: Grab your ugly sweater and head to Kallet's Country Christmas with the Custom Taylor Band.
Weekends in December: Enjoy Christmas classics like Home Alone and White Christmas on the big screen!

Kallet Theater, Oswego County
From left: Performance of It's a Wonderful Life, Ruddy Well Band, Outside the Kallet on Halloween
2. Oswego Music Hall
Check out some local talent in your own backyard at Open Mic Nights at the Oswego Music Hall. This great, little venue is transformed into an intimate, candlelit cafe overlooking Lake Ontario. It has been hosting Open Mic Nights since 2012.

The Oswego Music Hall also hosts nationally ranked performances every other Saturday following Open Mic Nights on Friday. Tickets range from $10-$20 for Saturday shows while Open Mic Nights are free of charge.

Upcoming Events:
January 9th: Enjoy the great guitar picker and banjo player Joe Crookston.
January 23rd: Come listen to a fun, local favorite, the Ruddy Well Band!
February 6th: Listen to acoustic strings met with electronic wizardry with Sultans of String.

Oswego Music Hall, Oswego County
From left: Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman, Gina Holsopple at Open Mic Night, Natahley Torrese at Open Mic Night
3. SUNY Oswego
Cheer on the Lakers this season at hockey and basketball games! Men's and Women's hockey teams play at the Marano Campus Center while the Men's and Women's basketball teams play at the Max Ziel Gymnasium. Hockey games are $8 and basketball games are $6. Everyone is welcome.

The Marano Campus Center also offers open skate to the public. Don't have ice skates? Don't worry about it, the skate shop has both hockey and figure skates available in all sizes. Skate rentals are just $2 while admission is only $3. Check out the schedule here. 

Upcoming Games/Events:
December 6th: Skate along side the Oswego Laker Hockey teams!
January 1st: Men's ice hockey plays Castleton
January 12th: Men's and Women's basketball play Brockport
January 19th: Women's ice hockey plays Morrisville

SUNY Oswego, Oswego County
From left: Men's Hockey Game, Men's Basketball Game, Open Skate at Campus Center
4. Bilou Roller Skating Rink
Let the good times roll! If ice skating isn't your thing, try out the blades at the Bilou Roller Skating Rink in Fulton. This exciting rink brings you back to the 80's with a DJ, video games and those goofy looking skates.

The rink is only open on weekends and costs $7 which includes the skates. They also do parties!

Rink Hours:
Friday: 7 - 10 p.m.
Saturday: 1:30 - 4:30 p.m., 7 - 10 p.m.
Sunday: 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Bilou Roller Skating Rink, Oswego County

Thanks for reading,

Check back soon for the Top Outdoor Winter Hot Spots!