Baltimore-area Coast Guard enforces safety zones during OpSail 2012

BALTIMORE — The Coast Guard escorted ships Wednesday and Thursday into Baltimore Harbor and maintained mandatory safety zones within the Chesapeake Bay during OpSail 2012.

The Coast Guard encourages boaters to familiarize themselves with safety recommendations and follow waterway regulations during the event.

“Boaters are encouraged to enjoy the events from the water,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Andrechik, incident management division chief at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore. “For everyone’s safety, we ask that all boaters be responsible, have designated lookouts, maintain safe speeds, practice good seamanship and be mindful of the safety and security zones in effect. These safety and security zones include no-wake zones within 500 yards and no entry zones within 100 yards of the participating vessels. During Saturday evening’s fireworks display, a 200-yard safety zone will be in effect near Fort McHenry.”

To provide safety on navigable waterways, the Coast Guard has established temporary regulated areas during the event. These restrictions will hinder the ability to transit certain areas, specifically the Patapsco River, Northwest Harbor, and Inner Harbor.  Boaters are reminded to plan accordingly and know the restrictions before heading to the area.

During the arrival and departure of the War of 1812 bicentennial commemoration vessels and during the air show, all spectator vessels must remain clear of the navigable channel and at least 100 yards away from any commercial vessels at anchor or commercial waterfront facility.

The restrictions will be the greatest for portions of the Patapsco River during the Blue Angels aerial practice and demonstrations from Thursday through Sunday. The enforcement of the safety zone between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. will cut off access to certain areas of the port for an extended period during these days.

Boaters are also reminded that when operating within the areas around the War of 1812 commemoration vessels greater than 100 feet in length, boats must operate at the minimum speed necessary to maintain a safe course while within 500 yards and are prohibited from operating within 100 yards.

Mariners can monitor VHF-FM channel 16 for the most up to date information regarding the restrictions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Coast Survey prepared a special commemorative booklet chart to help plan for smart boating during the bicentennial War of 1812 events. The downloadable charts marked with the restricted areas are available free of charge by visiting the NOAA website. In addition, the sponsors of the Star-Spangled Sailabration addressed frequently asked questions that the local boating public might have, which can be found here.


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