Boaters are reminded to be safe Columbus Day weekend

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsMIAMI — The Coast Guard would like to encourage boaters to enjoy their Columbus Day weekend on the water safely.

The Coast Guard stresses to the boating public that waterways in south Florida will be even more dangerous and harder to navigate due to the increased amount of boat traffic that Columbus Day Regatta brings. 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.

Weather conditions can change rapidly. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. The forecast can be heard by tuning into channels one through five on VHF marine radios or by checking the NWS website at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/

In addition, boaters are reminded of the dangers of drinking and boating. Exposure to outdoor elements such as the sun, wind and water have a dramatic effect on the body. Nearly 30 percent of all 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.

Boaters should always wear their life jackets, file a float plan with a friend or family member, have a working VHF radio and EPIRB on board. Finally, remain vigilant and 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.

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