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Law enforcement to ramp up boat patrols amid holiday weekend, beach closures

More boaters expected on water with beaches closed for Fourth of July
Posted at 8:41 PM, Jul 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-03 23:19:12-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — There is an increased law enforcement presence on Florida waterways this holiday weekend as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Canceled celebrations and beach closures could make for a record number of boaters.

"There's several hundred boats out there, several hundred," said Eric Dye, who took his boat out Friday on the Treasure Coast.

Dye said the rush to get to the sandbars has already begun.

"We are going out tomorrow," said Dye. "We were out today just hanging out at the sandbar, having a good time."

Because beaches are closed in Martin and St. Lucie counties, law enforcement agencies said they'll be patrolling the waters to make sure boaters stay safe and remain 50 feet apart.

RELATED: Martin County to close public beaches for Fourth of July weekend

That's in addition to the nationwide effort, known as Operation Dry Water, looking to stop impaired boating.

"We're prepared," said Martin County Sheriff's Office Capt. Ryan Grimsdale. "We've reallocated our manpower that has traditionally been on our beaches to those other areas so that we can maintain safety."

Dye said he's already seen law enforcement in action on the water.

"Earlier this morning I saw somebody, which was, you know, a good sign of who the police departments are, they were rushing somebody," said Dye. "We were coming in the inlet. They come blowing past us right here at Sandsprit (Park) and he had somebody on board and the ambulance was already here."

Dye said he believes the beaches should be open.

"There are a lot of families out there that are not fortunate enough to be on a vessel and, you know, taking away a day like today for America and tomorrow as well, the Fourth of July, is a big thing," said Dye. "There's a lot of people out there that want to be able to celebrate. That is kind of bothersome, you know, that we gather together and celebrate this country."