Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sorry, the Bar is Closed

Today's Federal Register contains this tidbit - perhaps not totally unexpected.
ACTION: Notice of proposed

Regulated Navigation Areas;
Bars Along the Coasts of Oregon and Washington

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

SUMMARY: The Coast Guard proposes to establish Regulated Navigation Areas (RNA) covering specific bars along the coasts of Oregon and Washington that will include procedures for restricting and/or closing those bars as well as additional safety requirements for recreational and small commercial vessels operating in the RNAs. The RNAs are necessary to help ensure the safety of the persons and vessels operating in those hazardous bar areas. The RNAs will do so by establishing clear procedures for restricting and/or closing the bars and mandating additional safety requirements for recreational and small commercial vessels operating in the RNAs when certain conditions exist.

If you want to read it all, click here.

Comments - Once again, I think the USCG is passing a new regulation as a knee jerk reaction to a single, isolated case; specifically, the case of Captain Oba who defied the Coast Guard's orders and attempted to cross the Umpqua River Bar. [read details here at Professional Mariner]. A snip from the proposed regulation:

Bar restriction. Passage across the bars located in the
regulated navigation areas established in paragraph
(a) of this section will be restricted for recreational
and uninspected passenger vessels as determined by....

So, the new regulation specifically targets uninspected passenger vessels, 6 pack charters, T boats, recreational boats etc. Oba was operating a 6 pac charter on his 38' Bertram. Here is the dumb part: the Coast had closed the Umpqua River Bar before Oba attempted his crossing, and the fool tried it anyway, resulting in the deaths of 3 of his passengers. Accounts of the incident indicate that the USCG contacted Oba numerous times to warn him off, and the offical record does say that the CG had "closed the bar" before the tragedy. [earlier post on this]

So, my question is this: Does this proposed new regulation mean that when the USCG closes the bar, it's really REALLY closed?