Coast Guard to set safety zone during Miami Floatopia event

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsMIAMI — Effective 10 a.m. Saturday, Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Capt. Chris Scraba, has established a temporary safety zone located east of South Beach in Miami Beach, Fla., during the Miami Floatopia event.

The temporary safety zone will start from the most eastern point of the northern main ship channel jetty and extend north to 5th street in Miami Beach, and prohibit all motor vessels from entering, transiting through or anchoring in the safety zone.

Floatopia is an event that consists of a gathering of people floating on rafts and other home-made or store boat floating devices. Temporary safety zones are necessary for the safety of participants floating in the water and the general public on the surrounding waters during the event.

“The U.S. Coast Guard and local partners will enforce a safety zone around the event and, due to safety concerns, will strictly prohibit vessels from interacting with or approaching the event from the sea,” said Cmdr. Darren Caprara, chief of response for Coast Guard Sector Miami. “In addition, numerous law enforcement agencies will combine efforts to ensure that the event is executed safely and in accordance with all landside and maritime laws and regulations. Included in this effort will be the prevention of alcohol from all activity on both the beach and in the water.”

The Coast Guard is advising recreational boaters that, for safety reasons, boaters will have to view this weekend’s event from a distance and will not be allowed to interact with the participants in any way. As always, boaters are advised to use caution and common sense. The following are safety tips all boaters should abide by:

•  Wear a life jacket at all times — Federal law requires you to have a personal floatation device on board for each passenger. Since there is little time to reach for stowed vests when accidents occur, wearing one at all times reduces your risk of drowning.

•   Have a marine band radio and visual distress signals — While many boaters rely on cell phones for emergency communications on the water, VHF-FM radios are much more reliable in the marine environment and work in areas where cell phones sometimes don’t.  Additionally, in accordance with federal law, recreational boats 16 feet and longer are required to carry visual distress signals such as flares, smoke signals or non-pyrotechnic devices, and vessels 12 meters or longer are required to carry sound-producing devices such as whistles, bells and gongs. State and local laws may require further safety equipment.

•   DO NOT boat under the influence of alcohol — Boating under the influence or boating while intoxicated is just as deadly as drinking and driving. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties for violating BUI and BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.

“By educating the boating public about the dangers of being under the influence while operating a boat or personal watercraft, we hope to significantly reduce the number of irresponsible people who are caught while boating under the influence,” added Caprara. “We want recreational boaters to have fun on the water, but we can’t tolerate boaters operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Please help to keep our waters safe and do not drink and boat.”

The Coast Guard will provide notice of the safety zones by Urgent Marine Information Broadcast (UMIB) and designated representatives on scene. The safety zone will be enforced from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Motor vessels desiring to enter, transit through, anchor in, or remain within the safety zones may contact the Caption of the Port Miami at (305) 535-4472, or a designated watchstander through VHF radio on channel 16, to request authorization.

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