Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 26, 2013

State Park Police and the Coast Guard warn boaters to steer clear of the 'Danger Zone'


Niagara Gazette — “A lot of times, boats enter the zone and they hit that reef,” Moriarty said, “they shear off the props on their outboard motors and now they’re in serious trouble because if they don’t get hung up on the reef, the current will take them straight to the brink of the falls.”

But getting stuck on the reef can be one of the better outcomes of entering the Danger Zone. Boaters will end up just sitting there, waiting for a rescue by the Park Police or Coast Guard, using boats that are specially designed to handle the dangerous waters inside and around the reef.

“The old-timers say that God put that reef there for drunks and fools,” Moriarty said. “(Getting caught on the reef) has saved a lot of people.”

When boats lose their motors and don’t get caught on the reef, the danger escalates. Moriarty recalls an incident when a boater lost his props on the reef and drifted all the way to Goat Island before rescuers were able to throw him a rope and pull him to shore.

““He was extremely lucky that we were able to get that rope to him,” Moriarty said. “Otherwise, he would have gone over the falls.”

U.S. Coast Guard officials share in both the Park Police concerns and in warning boaters about their responsibilities on the water. 

“You have to know the area you’re going to be operating in,” Coast Guard Chief Dennis O’Connell said. “You should always be wearing a life jacket and have a means of communication on-board your vessel. And when it comes to the Danger Zone, pay attention to the buoy chain.

In addition to a large sign on the American shoreline, near the water intakes, that warms of the Danger Zone, a line of buoys the stretches from one side of the river to the other also designates the area. The white buoys are marked with a red diamond, the universal boating sign for danger.

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