Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boaters Beware: New Signs Mean Return of Fines; Slow-Speed, No-Wake Zones Now Clearly Marked

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boaters Beware: New Signs Mean Return of Fines; Slow-Speed, No-Wake Zones Now Clearly Marked

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Abel

Boaters heading south of Jacksonville on the Intracoastal Waterway should look out for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's new slow-speed and no-wake zone signs.

Over the last several weeks, the commission has installed 37 signs and 13 buoys to complete its $96,000 project. Boaters who don't follow the rules could face a $68 speeding ticket.

The areas that are now regulated as no-wake or slow-speed zones are near the Palm Valley Bridge and five other bridges, continuing south past St. Augustine. The areas were all designated in 1990s as no-wake or slow-speed zones, but the signs have been washed away in hurricanes or removed by boaters and had to be replaced.

"The signs should all be up by mid-May," said Joy Hill, spokeswoman for the commission's northeast region. "FWC boating safety officers will probably be lenient on violators for a couple of weeks to give them a chance to acquaint themselves with the zones. But after that, those who ignore the speed regulations will risk getting a ticket."

The non-regulatory, informational signs that the Palm Valley Community Association has asked the commission to put up on the waterway north of the Palm Valley Bridge should be placed in conjunction with the other regulatory signs, FWC officer Paul Ouellette said.

Ouellette said the FWC is working with Flagler and St. Johns counties to put up informational signs in areas where residents have noticed increased problems but where statistics and accident reports don't support increased regulation.

The main reason for putting up the non-regulatory signs, Ouellette said, is as a "mechanism that we hope will bring to the attention of recreational boaters that they need to watch their wake and their speed."

Greg Leonard, the president of the Palm Valley Community Association, said three signs will be placed along the 9-mile stretch of waterway in Palm Valley, at the north and south ends and near the middle. …

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