Coast Guard and partner agencies prepare for annual Canal Days event

BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard, Maryland Natural Resources Police and the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department will be ramping up efforts at Chesapeake City’s annual Canal Days event in support of Operation Dry Water to ensure safety among the participants.

The purpose of this operation is to create awareness of the consequences that boating under the influence has and reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities through a partnership between the Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

The surge in Coast Guard law enforcement personnel, both on the water and on land, will begin Friday and end Saturday in Chesapeake City, Md., to maintain order and to provide a safe environment for party goers.

“The Coast Guard, along with our partner agencies, will be actively patrolling the basin on the water and on foot to make sure that the partying does not get too out of hand, and as with all of our operations, safety of the attendees and that of our crew, is paramount,” said Lt. Jonathan Andrechik, the incident management division chief at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore. “It’s definitely a huge undertaking, but based on the size of last year’s crowd, it’s best to err on the side of caution,” Andrechik said.

Enforcement teams will be keeping a lookout for boaters operating their vessels under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

“Maryland’s blood alcohol limit is the same for operating a vessel as it is for driving a vehicle,” said Sgt. Art Windemuth, the public information officer for NRP. “The penalty for operating a vessel under the influence is one year in jail and a $1000 fine for the first offense.”

Deputies from the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department will also be targeting traffic and parking violations as well as open container laws.

“Anyone caught with open containers of alcohol will be cited,” said Lt. Bernard Chiominto, the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department public affairs officer.

Additionally, swimming in the boat lanes, anchoring in the C&D Canal and stand up jet skis in the canal are all prohibited. Also prohibited are water balloon launchers, which include multi-person slingshots, pneumatic cannons and high pressure water hoses.

As a matter of safety, all boaters should have enough Coast Guard approved flotation devices for everyone aboard their vessels.

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