Coast Guard sets safety zone due to Santa Cruz Harbor shoaling

300 696253SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard has established a safety zone for the entrance of the Santa Cruz small craft harbor effective Friday, March 18, 10:30 a.m., until Sunday, May 1, at 10 p.m., or upon the completion of emergency dredging as announced via broadcast notice to mariners.

The zone includes the navigable waters as defined by the area contained with two borders: a northern border defined by the line created by extending the Santa Cruz Harbor boat launch ramp to the harbor’s western shore and a southern border defined by the line connecting the end points of the Santa Cruz Harbor east breakwater to Santa Cruz Harbor west breakwater. Boaters may use the harbor entrance upon receiving approval from the harbormaster on VHF-FM channel 9.

Due to the extreme shoaling that is occurring as a result of the El Nino season, the Coast Guard, in conjunction with the Santa Cruz Harbormaster, determined that shoaling at the entrance to the harbor has made it unsafe for many vessels to transit, particularly during high surf or extreme tides. At this time the dynamic movement of the shoals, which is a build-up of sand and/or mud within the channel, has caused erratic and drastic changes in depth that are not consistent with charted depths. The resulting hazardous conditions may cause vessels to run aground or to capsize due to breaking waves. The safety zone is enacted to ensure that boaters receive the most current information about conditions in the entrance channel prior to putting themselves or their vessels at risk.

This is scheduled to be in effect until May 1, 2016, or until the completion of emergency dredging. The Coast Guard will announce the cancelation of the safety zone, or its continuance, via a broadcast notice to mariners on VHF-FM channel 16, and via the Eleventh District’s local notice to mariners, which can be found on the internet at http://ift.tt/1S2bevO.

Persons and vessels requesting permission to enter the safety zone may contact the Harbor Master on VHF-9. In the event the Harbor Master cannot be reached persons and vessels may contact the Coast Guard Command Center at 415 399-3547.

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