Coast Guard alerting boaters of safety zones, no wake zones during Tall Ships Festival

Ninth CG District Logo - D9
CHICAGO — The Coast Guard is alerting boaters that it has established safety zones for this week’s Tall Ships festival and that the zones will be in effect beginning at midnight Aug. 6 through midnight Aug. 13.

Boaters will not be allowed to transit within 100 yards of any of the vessels during the Parade of Sail on Wednesday, while the vessels are underway any other day, or while they are at anchor. In addition, boaters will not be allowed to loiter within 25 yards of any of the vessels while they are moored.

The Coast Guard is warning boaters to adhere to these safety zones while transiting on Lake Michigan and around Navy Pier.

Entry into the zones is prohibited and will be strictly enforced by members of the Coast Guard, Chicago Police Marine Unit and Illinois Conservation Police.

Anyone desiring to enter the safety zone must request permission from the captain of the port or the designated on-scene representative via marine radio channel 16.

The safety zones have been established in the interest of maritime safety and are in place to protect vessels and individuals.

In addition, boaters are advised that the city of Chicago has established a “no wake” zone in the area inside the breakwall from the north side of the Jardine Water Filtration Plant to just south of Navy Pier. Boaters should pay close attention to markers that will be in place in this area.

With the anticipated increase in traffic on Lake Michigan this week during Tall Ships, the Coast Guard is also encouraging all boaters to observe these safety tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable time on the water:

  • Make sure your boat has a life jacket for each passenger aboard. The Coast Guard also encourages everyone to wear their life jacket at all times. Donning a life jacket is much harder once you’re in the water, especially if you’re injured.
  • Invest in a VHF-FM radio as a primary means of distress alerting on the water. Communication via VHF-FM radio provides superior alerting capabilities than cellular phones.
  • Make sure you have emergency signaling devices and that they’re in working order. This includes items like day and night visible flares, a signaling mirror, a whistle, an air horn or other sound-producing device. These help broadcast your distress and can aid emergency crews in locating you.
  • Don’t drink and boat. Alcohol accounted for nearly 17 percent of all recreational boating fatalities in 2012. Boating under the influence is just as dangerous as drinking and driving a motor vehicle, and just as illegal. The marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray – accelerates a drinker’s impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that can make a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline faster than when consuming alcohol on land. Penalties for a BUI can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail terms. The Coast Guard aggressively prosecutes intoxicated operators.

Beachgoers are also reminded to observe safety tips:

  • Never swim alone. When possible, swim near a lifeguard. Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death in the United States and the second leading cause of accidental death for people aged 5 to 44.
  • If/when weather turns rough, observe warnings and red flags on the beaches. Stay out of heavy surf.
  • During high surf warnings, stay away from jetties, breakwalls and rocks since unsuspecting waves can knock you off balance and sweep you into the water.
  • Be aware of rip currents that can pull you away from shore. To break the grip of a rip, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current subside, and then swim inland to shore.


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