Safety Guidelines

Recreational Vessels

Thinking of going out to recreate on Cleveland’s Lake Erie Harbor or the lower six miles of the Cuyahoga River? There are a few things you can do BEFORE you hit the river/lake to ensure you have a fun and safe time.

  • Get yourself an app that tracks large boat traffic on the river. We use Marine Traffic (available for $3.95). FindShip is a less robust app that’s available for free. Before you venture out on the river, check the app to ensure you won’t be sharing a narrow body of water with a vessel that’s as long as the Terminal Tower is tall. And consider purchasing a floating waterproof pouch for your phone so you can monitor the app & take pictures while you’re on the water!

  • Familiarize yourself with the Paddle Safe Brochure that Cuyahoga River Restoration put together with members of the Cuyahoga River Safety Task Force.

  • Check out the below videos to better understand the unique challenges maritime faces when sharing a narrow body of water with recreational boaters (both human and motor powered). The Cleveland Harbor and last 6 miles of the Cuyahoga River are Federal Navigation Channels so there are specific rules of the road and safety requirements. The 6 minute Cleveland Water Safety Video, another joint effort by the Cuyahoga River Safety Task Force, is a must watch.

  • Download and read ODNR’s Ohio Boaters Guide.

  • When you’re out on the water, your ears are as important as your eyes. If you hear the horn of a bridge (NS1, Center Street (Red), Carter Road (Blue), Columbus Road (Green) signaling the start of a lift, know that lift is happening because something BIG is coming through! If you hear a horn blast from a freighter, take immediate action, i.e. get out of the way as fast as possible. Five short horn blasts mean danger!

  • If you’re near a freighter in a turn, you are in the wrong place and you ARE in danger. Prop wash from bow & stern thrusters can capsize a boat or push you into a hazardous location. If you find yourself in a turn with a freighter, you MUST listen to the crew on the ship for direction on what you need to do. Well meaning bystanders on shore may also shout directions – listen to the ship crew. See video below.

Learn More at Share the River