Mendocino Ocean Safety Coalition

Photo by Bill Shiffbauer

Photo by Bill Shiffbauer

Every year there are tragic deaths right off our shores that might have been prevented if visitors knew and respected the dangers of our Pacific coastline. Anyone, visitor and local alike, who recreates in or near the ocean can encounter dangerous conditions that may not be obvious and that are in a state of constant change.


In 2004 a man and a boy visiting the coast for a youth basketball tournament were swept off the rocks by a “sneaker wave” and drowned. This incident inspired a small group of Caspar-area citizens, led by Bill & Linda Watson and Ginny Wade, to form a citizen’s group which was the predecessor to the current Water Safety Coalition. The Mendocino area Parks Association (MendoParks) agreed to act as the non-profit fiscal agent for Coalition.


There are good, common-sense “rules” and advice that every person approaching the ocean should follow, whether walking and playing with children or pets on a beach, or exploring tide pools, fishing from shore, kayaking or entering the water to surf or dive.  A handy guide to these “rules,” a brochure titled Ocean’s Twelve: 12 Tips for Seaside Safety, has been prepared by the Mendocino County Water Safety Coalition (Coalition).  The Coalition is truly a “citizen’s” action group which includes concerned citizens on the coast working hand-in-hand with representatives of a number of non-profit groups and government agencies.  (See list below)


The Coalition has produced thousands of these guides and other materials since it was created and has made them widely available to the public.   The guides can be found in our local visitor centers, and in plastic boxes mounted on posts at the most frequently used ocean access points along the Mendocino Coast. Many of these locations also have multi-hazard warning signs, including tsunami warnings.  A variety of other efforts have been used to “get the word out” and the Coalition is looking for new ways to alert the public to the potential hazards of the ocean.


Contributions are tax-deductible; checks should be made out to the MAPA and mailed to P.O. Box 1387, Mendocino, CA 95460 with a note that the funds are for the Mendocino County Water Safety Coalition.  Almost 100% of money donated goes directly to carrying out the mission of the Coalition.


In addition to active local citizens, the Coalition includes the following non-profits and public agency representatives:  Surfrider Foundation, Pt. Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association, Mendocino Land Trust, CA Departments:  Fish & Wildlife,  Parks & Recreation and Cal Fire; National Weather Service, U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, Liquid Fusion Kayaking, Mendocino Co. Emergency Services and Sheriff’s Department; Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department, American Red Cross, Mendocino Area Parks Association and Redwood Coast Tsunami Workgroup.