MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Coast Guard would like to encourage boaters to enjoy their Columbus Day weekend on the water safely.
Officials are stressing the increased amount of boat traffic due to the Columbus Day Regatta will make waterways more difficult to navigate.
Coast Guard crews, including many from the Coast Guard Auxiliary, will be patrolling the area, conducting safety checks both on the water and at marinas.
Crews will be on the lookout for boaters who are intoxicated or operating their vessel in an unsafe manner.
The Coast Guard offers these tips for boaters:
- Be weather-aware. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so check the forecast by tuning into channels one through five on VHF marine radios or by checking the NWS Miami website
- Be smart if drinking. Exposure to sun, wind and water have a dramatic effect on the body, and nearly 30 percent of recreational boating fatalities can be attributed to alcohol. Intoxicated boaters can face both federal and state charges, with penalties of up to one year in prison and up to $100,000 in fines
- Be prepared. Always wear life jackets, file a float plan with a friend or family member and have a working VHF radio and EPIRB on board
- Be vigilant. Observe safety and security zones while on the water this Columbus Day.
Additional information on safe and secure boating practices can be found at the Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety page at http://www.uscgboating.org or by calling (800) 368-5647.