New campaign focuses on boater safety around floatplanes on Lake Union

The Recreational Boating Association of Washington launched “Mind the Zone” to educate boaters about seaplane landing advisory zones.

SEATTLE — The Recreational Boating Association of Washington is launching the “Mind the Zone” campaign to educate boaters about seaplane landing advisory zones.

The campaign asks anyone on Lake Union to know the landing zones and to get out of them when a seaplane is about to take off or land.

“There are five buoys that go north to south on the lake, so from Gas Works Park to [the Museum of History and Industry]and when those lights flash yellow on the buoy, that means they’re about to take off or land soon,” said Andrea Pierantozzi, vice president of the Recreational Boating Association of Washington. “What we’re asking boaters to do is move east to west. to give space to these boaters, take off or the users of the land and the lake can go about their business.”

Boaters are asked to move 200 feet east or west of the buoys when the lights are flashing. The City of Seattle installed the buoys in 2018 and places them annually from Memorial Day through Labor Day in a north-south line on the lake.

According to the Boating Association, data from the UW Washington Sea Grant showed that 2020 was the best year for boat sales in over a decade, so more new people are on the water. This is in addition to people using services like the Freedom Boat Club, which has also seen increased interest.

“From very experienced boaters to brand new boaters, we have people who have never been on a boat before joining the club,” said Freedom Boat Club manager Keith Lemley.

Kenmore Air, which operates a number of flights taking off and landing on Lake Union, said its pilots are experienced in landing, even in crowded situations. However, the company is grateful to boaters who work with the advisory, which helps improve predictability and prevent close calls.

“We share the environment together and we all want to operate in this beautiful environment safely, and I think boaters feel the same as pilots – we want to share the space safely,” said Greg Wadsworth, terminal manager of Kenmore Air Lake Union.

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