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New campaign stresses boater safety around seaplanes 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 be aware of the landing zones and move out of them when a seaplane is going to take off or land.

"There are five buoys that run north to south on the lake, so from Gas Works Park to [the Museum of History and Industry], and when those lights are flashing yellow on the buoy that means they're going to be taking off shortly or landing," Recreational Boating Association of Washington Vice President Andrea Pierantozzi said. "What we ask boaters to do is to move east to west to give those boaters some space, take off or land and lake users can go about their business."

Boaters are asked to move 200 feet to the east or west of buoys when the lights are flashing. The City of Seattle installed the buoys in 2018, and puts them in 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 2020 was the best year for boat sales in more than a decade, so more new people are on the water. That's in addition to people who use services like Freedom Boat Club, which has also seen increased interest.

"Very seasoned boaters to brand new boaters, we have people who've never been on a boat before join the club," Freedom Boat Club manager Keith Lemley said.

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

"We share the environment together and we all want to operate in this beautiful environment safely, and I think the boaters feel the same as the pilots- we want to share the space safely," Kenmore Air Lake Union Terminal Manager Greg Wadsworth said.

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