With high wind forecast for northern Florida & Georgia boaters advised to secure vessels, gear

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ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – The Coast Guard is urging the maritime community to exercise caution on the water and to take early action to properly secure vessels and gear in advance of severe weather predicted for northeast Florida and southeast Georgia during the next 24 to 48 hours.

A National Weather Service report predicts a strong cold front will push into the area, bringing gusty north winds between 15 to 25 mph with gusts 25 to 35 mph over land late Tuesday night and into Wednesday.

Seas are predicted to build between 8 and 11 feet near shore late Tuesday night and Wednesday.  Seas are forecast to build 9 to 12 feet offshore after midnight, then 12 to 16 feet Wednesday.  Moderate rip currents are expected Tuesday with strong rip currents developing by Tuesday night and Wednesday.

The Coast Guard advises mariners to ensure their vessels are properly secured to their moorings. Boaters may contact local marinas to ask for advice about properly securing their vessels for the weather conditions.

Mariners are also advised to ensure all gear, including life jackets, life rafts, ring buoys, or other objects that could be carried off by high winds, are properly stowed or tied down to prevent flying debris. Reports of unattended boats and gear adrift often result in unnecessary searches by the Coast Guard for people in distress.

Boaters are advised to avoid traveling offshore for the duration of the severe weather. Mariners are also advised to not try to reach a boat that has become adrift and is surrounded by debris. Wait until authorities have made safe access available. Do not try to board a partially sunken boat; seek salvage assistance from a professional.

Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials determine the water is safe. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to strong waves and rip currents. Storms move quickly and may be unpredictable.

For more information about the forecast, visit the National Weather Service website at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/

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