This year marks the return of July 4 fireworks to the East River, and the show promises to be fantastic! But this event draws a greater than usual glut of recreational boats to our waterway, many of which are not operated as carefully as we paddlers and rowers would like.
For your safety, please be aware of July 4, 2014 safety zones restricting vessel movements on the East River. The full US Coast Guard notification, published as a .pdf file, is here:
It looks like the best, safest viewing area for paddlers and rowers from the north might be just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, on the Brooklyn side. Please note that in East River marine radio chatter (Channel 13), the “north” and “south” referred to in this safety notice from the USCG are usually replaced by “east” and “west” because the waterway terminates by bending west into the Upper Bay and east into the Long Island Sound.
Lt. Kristopher Kesting, the region’s Marine Event Branch Chief, advised HarborLAB, “We did not designate a specific kayak/canoe viewing area, however we do advise you to remain outside of zone Charlie and as close to (preferably inside of) the pier head line while viewing the fireworks. As always, we request that you remain clear of powered recreational and commercial vessel traffic (especially near the battery) and abide by safe boating practices.”
No doubt paddling and rowing organizations will abide by best practices, but this post is especially directed to individual paddlers who might wish to enjoy this exciting night afloat.
In years past when Erik Baard conducted fireworks viewing tours, paddlers waited to one side, near shore, while motorboats left the viewing area. BE CAREFUL: BOATERS OFTEN SPEED AWAY. As always, NO ALCOHOL. Also, be visible (bright colored boats, navigation lights, strobes in emergencies), stay close together, and use your marine radios. As noted NYC kayaking expert Rafael Diaz advises, “Be seen and be heard. Assume you’re not seen and not heard.”