Coast Guard to enforce safety zone during Norfolk Harborfest 2023

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard is scheduled to conduct safety patrols and enforce safety zones during Norfolk Harborfest 2023, which runs June 9-11 at Town Point Park, at the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront.

Norfolk Harborfest is a maritime festival run in partnership between hundreds of national, state and local organizations to encourage public boating safety.

Historically, Norfolk Harborfest draws close to 500 recreational and commercial vessels and 50,000 visitors to the downtown Norfolk waterfront.

This year’s event expects to draw a large number of spectator vessels in the vicinity of Town Point Reach.

To assist in maintaining a safe waterway, Coast Guard Sector Virginia crews, along with regional partners, are scheduled to enforce a safety zone limiting the use of the Elizabeth River Channel from Friday June 9, through Sunday, June 11, 2023.

Additional details are listed below:

Waterway closures will be in effect during the following dates and times:

  • June 9th: 2:15 p.m. – 3 p.m. during a search and rescue demonstration
  • June 9th: 9:15 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. during a drone show
  • June 10th: 1:15 p.m. – 2 p.m. during a search and rescue demonstration
  • June 10th: 9 p.m. – 10 p.m. during the fireworks show

In the case it rains:

  • Saturday: 9:15 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. would be the drone show
  • Sunday: 8:45 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. would be the fireworks

During these times, vessels are directed not to enter the regulated area. Operators must stop their vessel immediately upon being directed to do so and must proceed as directed by law enforcement vessels.

Throughout the event, Coast Guard small-boat crews are on scene monitoring VHF channels 13 and 16.

Mariners are requested to use extreme caution when transiting Town Point Reach.

The Coast Guard recommends mariners heed the following safety tips below to help ensure their safety while on the water:

• Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway.

• Don’t drink and boat. Aside from wearing a life jacket, not drinking and boating is one of the easiest ways to prevent accidental deaths on the water. People operating vessels under the influence of alcohol, drugs or impairing medication pose a serious threat to you and anyone else aboard.

• Make a VHF radio your go-to means of communicating in an emergency. Cell phones may go out of range or lose battery power when needed most. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the operation of your radio.

• Get a vessel safety check. The Coast Guard Auxiliary provides free boating safety checks. Get a free safety inspection from the Coast Guard Auxiliary to make sure you have all the gear and safety equipment required by your state and federal laws.

• Check the weather and tides before you head out. It might look like a nice day, but squalls and shifting tides can change suddenly.

• File a float plan. Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Float plans provide a starting point to help find you if something happens.

• Know your navigation rules. Know how to properly navigate waterways, use safe speed and maintain lookouts to keep yourself and everyone else around you safe.

• Use extreme caution when swimming in congested areas.

• No bow riding.

• Locator beacons can help us find you faster. Attaching a functioning emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) to your boat, or a personal EPIRB to your life jacket and knowing how to use them, can help rescuers locate and assist you. To be most effective, these should be registered with the owner’s information and emergency contacts.

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