Coast Guard, local agencies increase patrols for Gasparilla Day Celebration

TAMPA, Fla. – The Coast Guard and local law-enforcement agencies will partner up to keep local waterways safe during the upcoming Gasparilla Day celebration.

Security patrols will be increased to conduct safety inspections of recreational boats and ensure boaters are not operating watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

A 50-foot safety zone and no-wake zone surrounding the parade route in Hillsborough Bay will be implemented from Saturday at 7 a.m. to Sunday at 12 a.m.

The Coast Guard recommends all boaters adhere to the following safety practices:

  • Always wear a properly-sized lifejacket and have one for each person aboard.
  • Do not overload the boat above operational capacity.
  • Secure gear to prevent capsizing.
  • Never operate watercraft under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
  • Ensure navigational lights are operational before departing.
  • Avoid “blinding” other operators by properly using searchlights.
  • Extinguish decorative lights after dark when transiting to and from the parade area.

Watercraft should always be operated at a safe speed and boaters should maintain a proper lookout by constantly staying aware of their surroundings and other boats.

“The Gasparilla Day events bring a large number of boats within a confined space and boating safety is a core responsibility for the Coast Guard,” said Lt. j.g. Will Sanders, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg’s chief of incident management. “Boaters need to be careful while out on the water during the celebration to ensure they have a safe and fun weekend.”

Boaters are also encouraged to file a float plan with a friend or family member, and have a working VHF radio and a 406 MHz EPIRB on board. Each passenger should be educated on what to do in the event of a maritime emergency, including how to use a VHF radio, and the location of safety equipment and first-aid supplies.

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