I am a frequent rower on the Hillsborough River and have noticed a gradually increasing amount of boat traffic. Much of this involves local rowers, but many more out-of-town visitors come to Tampa in the winter months to participate.
Additional types of watercraft — canoes, kayaks, etc., — and swimmers also are being seen. In addition, considerable construction is occurring along the waterfront, which will only increase traffic in the future.
I am also a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and instructor in its boating and safety course. As such, I am concerned at the lack of understanding and compliance with the well-defined traffic patterns that apply to anyone operating a vessel on the river.
Personal appeals to the local organizations that sponsor rowing, as well as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is assigned to police the waterways, have resulted in no significant effort to institute programs that teach and demand compliance with basic traffic regulations as set out by the Coast Guard and applicable to the river and adjacent waters.
I call upon city and county officials to institute and enforce basic safety measures on the river before a tragedy happens that we will all regret.
Alvin H. Felman, MD