Tampa, Florida - If you have a tall sailboat and are thinking of going out on the water during the Republican National Convention, be prepared because a number of bay area bridges will not open during certain hours of the event.
The Coast Guard announced 15 temporary security zones this week and while most are in Pinellas County, officials say they are needed because the bridges included will be used by delegates to get to the convention site.
"We have the restrictions going out to the beaches because that's where the delegates are staying, and when you move that number of people to a convention, you have to take into account what could happen. We've examined every scenario and planned for that," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Judy Silverstein.
In addition to the times when the bridges will remain in the down position, Silverstein says boaters will not be able to anchor, stop or loiter within 50-yards of the bridges.
Officials say a security zone will be in place for the Howard Frankland Bridge, Gandy Bridge and the Courtney Campbell Causeway starting at 12:01 p.m. on Aug. 25,continuing until 1 a.m. on August 31.
Temporary security zoneswill be from 3 - 8 p.m. on August 26, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. and again from 3 - 7 p.m. on August 27,and from 3 - 7 p.m. on August 28, 29and 30 for the following bridges:
- Clearwater Memorial Causeway
- Sand Key/Clearwater Pass Bridge
- Belleair Causeway Bridge
- Walsingham Rd. Bridge/Indian Rocks
- Park Blvd.
- Welch Causeway
- Seminole Bridge
- Johns Pass Bridge
- Treasure Island Causeway
- Corey Causeway
- Blind Pass Bridge
- Pinellas Bayway Structures A, B and C
Shirley Nelle, the dock master at Madeira Bay Marina says the security zones will be a major inconvenience for some sailboat operators.
"So that will eliminate any kind of charter business or pleasure and a lot of people are coming to our hotel area and chartering these boats, so you're out of luck," she said.
But Capt. Mark Hubbard, who operates several large charter boats out of Johns Pass, said they will just have to work around the bridge restrictions and everything should be all right.