Coast Guard warns to steer clear of freighters on Cuyahoga River

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CLEVELAND – The U.S. Coast Guard is warning boaters and people using paddle craft on the Cuyahoga River to stay out of the way of larger, cargo ships.

As more people flock to the revitalized Flats to explore the river and Lake Erie, the Coast Guard said there has been an increase in smaller vessels getting in the way of freighters.

“The risk is being in the way of a large vessel that can't stop very quickly or maneuver fast enough, especially in a narrow channel,” said Petty Officer Second Class Lauren Steenson.

The owners of Great Lakes Watersports, which rents boats, jet skis and kayaks on the west bank of the Flats, said rentals have been steadily growing since they bought the business in 2016.

Increased activity along the river, including new bars and restaurants, have drawn more people to the area.

“Business has been fantastic. It's been pretty much a steady increase since we've opened two years ago. It's been on the rise pretty much every month since then,” said manager Pete Dittoe.

With increased fun has come increased issues for freighters, according to the Coast Guard.

Congestion on the river can make it difficult for freighters to navigate tight corners. The Coast Guard said ships have collided with the west bank twice over the last two years while trying to avoid hitting smaller vessels.

“It's dangerous to be in the way of any large ship,” Steenson said. “Stay out of the main shipping lane, which is the middle of the river, and stick toward the edge of the river which is a little bit safer and out of the tankers' ways.”

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