Watch Out for Barges and Towboats

Towboats and barges are familiar sights on many of our nation’s waterways. Since these vessels operate 24 hours a day and pose a number of safety hazards, recreational boaters should be vigilant when boating in areas with commercial traffic.

barge and dolphin Barges can be surprisingly quiet, and the speed of both barges and towboats can be deceiving. These vessels are capable of traveling a mile in seven minutes, but it may take them over a mile to come to a stop. Boaters should steer clear of channel areas with high commercial traffic even after barges have passed since strong wakes can create serious turbulence hundreds of yards behind the towboat.

While towboat operators are generally on the lookout for smaller boats, their visibility is sometimes limited and they may be unable to maneuver quickly enough to avoid a recreational boater… especially one who is not paying attention!

In addition, a towboat without barges in front of it may be towing astern with the towline submerged. Stay Clear! Recreational boaters should always maintain a proper lookout and steer well clear of commercial boat operations. Boat Smart. Boat Safe.

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