Pleasure boats share bay waters with modern ships that haul cargo from all over the world. Awareness of the constraints under which these vessels operate is the best protection against dangerous encounters. From the cockpit of an open boat, Tampa Bay looks almost endless, but looks can be deceiving. While quite large in terms of the square miles it covers, the bay is also very shallow, which restricts navigation for larger vessels. The average ship that calls on Tampa Bay is longer than two football fields. A ship this size crosses vast oceans with ease, but its ability to maneuver and stop is severely reduced upon entering the narrow confines of harbors such as Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is home to several ports; one of these, the Port of Tampa, consistently ranks among the nation's 10 largest in terms of trade activity. On an average day, more than 14 million gallons of petroleum products and many other hazardous materials pass in and out of Tampa Bay on ships as large as 48,000 tons. Some of the vessels carrying these products clear the bottom by as little as four feet and may be restricted to channels as narrow as 200 feet. Most require a mile or more to come to a complete stop. The pilots that guide these vessels in Tampa Bay need your cooperation:
YOU CAN HELP! To keep boating safe and enjoyable:
DID YOU KNOW?: The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers a free boat inspection to advise boaters of state and federal safety requirements. Violations found during these courtesy exams will not be reported to authorities.