Coast Guard urges recreational boaters to use caution near commercial vessels

9th Coast Guard District NewsSAULT SAINT MARIE, Mich. — In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, personnel at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., are urging  recreational boaters to use caution while operating near commercial vessels and shipping lanes.

In the northern Great Lakes and waterways surrounding northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, a large number of recreational boaters operate in the same areas as tug and barge combinations, ferries, and large cargo vessels.

To prevent endangering their boats and passengers during close interaction with these vessels, mariners should understand the constraints under which these commercial vessels operate.

Using the following safety checklist allows mariners to operate safely:

•  Avoid transiting through shipping channels when possible. When crossing a shipping channel cannot be avoided, do so quickly and directly.

•  Stay alert and watch for large commercial traffic.

•  Make sure than you can be seen, especially at night. Ensure that all navigation lights are working properly.

•  Know appropriate sound signals. Five or more horn blasts means danger.

•  Have a working marine-band radio. Listen to VHF-FM channels 13 and 16 for security calls from commercial vessels.

•  Always wear life jackets. A life jacket can’t save your life if you’re not wearing it.

•  Let someone know where you are going and when you will be returning.

•  Understand and follow Coast Guard navigation rules.

•  When in doubt, steer clear of commercial traffic.

Click here for more safety information regarding the interaction of recreational boats, paddlers and commercial traffic on the Great Lakes and other inland waterways.

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