By Mark Boshnack
SIDNEY A love of boating has spurred a Sidney man to help others have a safe experience on the water.
John M. Grenchenko, 55, said he got hooked on the sea as a teenager when his family had a 21-foot cruiser.
Now, as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary stationed in Ithaca, he gives free safety inspections of boats, "from kayaks to cruisers," working in this area, he said.
It’s toward the end of the season, but anglers, duck hunters and cold-water enthusiasts still go out and can use the service, he said.
An inspection includes checking for out-of-date flares, proper registration numbers and faulty equipment.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]"You might compare it to a car inspection," he said.
This is provided as a courtesy so when a boater gets out on the water, "you know you have the equipment you need and everything is in working order," he said.
As part of the service, he will provide a vehicle safety inspection sticker so law enforcement knows that an examination has been done by the proper authority, he noted.
Other members of the auxiliary are trained in water search and rescue, but he lives too far away to attend the necessary classes, he said.
His current sloop is a 25-foot 1984 MacGregor named Lady Hawk, he said. It is being worked on to prepare it for next year.
Don Campbell of Lansing is a member of the auxiliary along with Grenchenko. He said "inspections are a cornerstone of the service" the auxiliary provides.
By having members helping with these duties, "we help the Coast Guard, giving them more time to patrol."
Many of the expenses for the inspections are covered by the Coast Guard, but "a love of the sea" is what draws people to be members, he said.
Grenchenko said the auxiliary is only one way he helps others share his enjoyment.
With a new job for ARC Otsego, he cannot devote the time to the service that he would like to, he said. He has only inspected 12 boats this year, out of a target of 60.
He hopes next year to find the time to meet his goal, he said.
He also teaches a boating safety class. The next eight-hour class is Oct. 15 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Sidney Memorial Public Library, and the fee is $45.
Grenchenko is licensed by the state Department of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation as an instructor.
Peter Gionet, a marine service representative with the state agency, said Gov. George Pataki signed legislation in 2004 allowing instructors to charge for the course that is needed to operate a JetSki.
Not only do instructors need to pass a test but they have to show the ability to teach, Gionet said.
Many auxiliary instructors also teach the state course, Gionet said.
Sidney Library Director Mary Grace Flaherty said a room is provided for the course as a community service.
Included in the information on boating safety are state and federal regulations, handling emergency situations and helping others and how to read the weather.
For more information on the inspections or classes, call Grenchenko at 369-2292.