Coast Guard and partner agencies talk Columbus Day Weekend safety

Southeastern Coast Guard News
MIAMI – The Coast Guard and its partner agencies held a briefing today to stress boating safety during the busy holiday weekend (Oct. 11-14).

Taking part in the were representatives from the Coast Guard, National Park Service (NPS), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR).

In light of the numerous boating accidents and fatalities that have occurred in South Florida during past holiday weekends, and to ensure the safety of the boating public, a unified command of federal, state and local agencies, including the Coast Guard, NPS, FWC, MDPD and MDFR will be patrolling the waters and conducting safety and boating-under-the-influence checks during the Columbus Day Weekend.

Lt. Michael Cortese, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla., along with representatives from the National Park Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and local authorities hold a Columbus Day weekend media briefing Thursday at Base Miami Beach to stress boating safety during the busy holiday weekend (Oct. 11-14). In light of the numerous boating accidents and fatalities that have occurred in South Florida during past holiday weekends, and to ensure the safety of the boating public, a unified command of federal, state and local agencies will be patrolling the waters and conducting safety and boating-under-the-influence checks during the Columbus Day weekend. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jon-Paul Rios)

Lt. Michael Cortese, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla.stresses boating safety during the busy holiday weekend (Oct. 11-14). U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jon-Paul Rios

“If anyone sees a person or vessel acting or operating in an unsafe manner, they’re encouraged to notify proper authorities by calling the Coast Guard on VHF-FM Marine Radio Channel 16 or by dialing 911 from a cell phone,” said Lt. Michael Cortese, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Miami Beach.

The Coast Guard and its partner agencies want to stress the importance of boating safety. Tragically, there were 50 boating fatalities in Florida in 2012.

Nationally, the four main causes of boating accidents resulting in fatalities are: alcohol/drug use; operator inexperience; operator inattention; and excessive speed.

Special regulations that will be in place during Columbus Day Weekend to protect boaters and the environment include an enforced Coast Guard Safety Zone on Saturday and Sunday around the Columbus Day Regatta Sailing Event, which will occur between the Rickenbacker Causeway and Solider Key, and South Miami and Key Biscayne.  Additionally, there will be a 15-knot Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) along the Intracoastal Waterway from the Rickenbacker Causeway to the Featherbed Bank. The RNA will be vigorously enforced.

Boaters are responsible for their own safety. Boating safety is about more than just equipment; it’s about behavior and responsibility.

Here are a few safety tips to remember before you head out this weekend:

1. Don’t drink and boat. Be responsible with drinks aboard. Designate a “sober skipper” before departing the dock.
2. Remain anchored and on your vessel, particularly after dark. While no official curfew will be in place for the weekend, it is in your best interest to “stay parked after dark.”
3. Check your safety gear to ensure it works. File a float plan with a friend or at a marina. A float plan form can be found at www.floatplancentral.org. Remember to wear your lifejackets and make sure you have flares and a working VHF-FM marine radio onboard. Another potentially life-saving device to invest in is an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).
4. Groundings are costly to your boat, your engine, and the environment. To avoid groundings make sure to have navigational charts or an electronic navigation system onboard and learn to properly use them before you head out on the water.
5. Avoid the shallow areas of the Featherbed Bank.
6. Help protect marine life, the environment and your boat engine. Dispose of trash and plastic bags properly.

For more information on boating safety, visit www.uscgboating.org.

For more photos click the picture.

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