Coast Guard partners with local agencies for a safe Gasparilla Day celebration

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Coast Guard, Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tampa Police Department, Sheriff’s Offices from Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties and other law enforcement agencies will partner up to keep local waterways safe during the upcoming Gasparilla Day marine invasion celebration.

Security patrols will be increased to enforce boating safety regulations and ensure boaters are not operating watercraft under the influence of alcohol. The Coast Guard and partner law enforcement agencies will be out in force the entire day to monitor the invasion, enforce safe boating and remove and prosecute any impaired operators.

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. To ensure safety, the Coast Guard is asking that boaters take care when operating their vessels, maintain a proper lookout by constantly staying aware of their surroundings, operate watercraft at a safe speed, and be responsible especially with regards to drinking and boating.

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

  • Ensure you have a properly-sized lifejacket available for each person aboard.
  • Do not overload the boat above operational capacity and ensure passengers are safely inside the boat at all times.
  • Ensure navigational lights are operational before departing.
  • Extinguish decorative lights after dark when transiting to and from the parade area.
  • File a float plan with a friend or family member have a working VHF radio on board.
  • Consider the acquisition and registry of emergency position indicating radio beacons (ePIRBs).
  • Educate each passenger on what to do in the event of a maritime emergency, including how to operate a VHF radio and the location of safety equipment and first aid supplies.

Of particular note for Saturday, bad weather including the possibility of thunderstorms has been predicted. Boaters should be especially aware of possible weather conditions, closely monitor weather service forecasts and warnings, and adjust their plans accordingly.

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