MOREHEAD CITY, CARTERET COUNTY -

U.S. Tow Boat has responded to more than 20 cases so far this weekend. Captain Lee Sykes reminds boaters to check their boat thoroughly before going out on the water this Memorial Day.

Captain Skyes said they’ve responded to several boat fires and sunken boat cases. He said historically in Carteret County this is the kick off weekend for boating season, but also the weekend they get the most calls for help.

Skyes said one of the boat fires was a result of an electric short and another was the result of a  fire starting in the engine room after the ignition was turned on.

He recommends checking on your boat at least once a month, and especially the first time you go out after a long winter with it being turned off.

"We encourage people to go through and check all their bilge pump hoses, check all their through hole fittings, and check their safety equipment. Just do a good general overview of the boat,” Skyes said.

He said boats sinking, like the ones he's responded to, could be due to weather or a lack in maintenance.

Skyes said if you do find yourself sinking this weekend to immediately put your life jacket on.

"The second thing is to go ahead and make contact with the Coastguard. Let them know where you are at and how many people are on board," Skyes said.

 He said if the boat capsizes to make sure and stay together until help arrives.

"It’s a lot easier for us to find you in the wreckage than it is for us to try to find a single person adrift off shore," Skyes said.

He also said to not forget the little things like checking to see if you have a full tank of gas or a working battery.