Pingree Urges Coast Guard to Protect Safety of Penobscot Bay Boaters
Washington, October 6, 2023
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) is voicing her concern over the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) decision to no longer maintain two daybeacons in Penobscot Bay. Pingree, who is a resident of North Haven, said the two daybeacons—the Drunkard Ledge Daybeacon and the Fiddler Ledge Daybeacon—“play a vital role in helping the North Haven ferry, and hundreds of working and pleasure boats safely navigate every day.”
“The Local Notice to Mariners states that the daybeacons have no navigational significance and do not mark navigable channels. However, the daybeacons and their radar reflectors are routinely used as a visual signal, and for radar location, to help boats navigate Penobscot Bay while avoiding the dangerous ledges below, which are especially difficult to locate during high tide,” Pingree wrote. “These daybeacons are a vital navigational tool for the North Haven Ferry, which safely transported approximately 55,000 passengers and over 20,000 vehicles in 2021. The North Haven Ferry often tacks into the wind and travels up the bay for a smoother ride when there is a strong northeast wind for safety and passenger comfort rather than going directly across the bay. When navigating in that area, it is important to know exactly where the Drunkard Ledge is located to avoid grounding or hitting the rocks below as it provides the safe turning point towards Fox Islands Thorofare.”
“The Local Notice to Mariners also states that both daybeacons are well marked on electronic and paper charts. However, existing navigational aids provide conflicting and erroneous information on the status of the daybeacons, particularly for the Drunkard,” Pingree continued. “Even though the Drunkard Ledge itself still appears on paper and electronic charts, it is also shown as having a daybeacon; it has none. At high tide, Drunkard Ledge is completely underwater for several hours and therefore invisible to the eye and radar, though still dangerous. The lack of that daybeacon and conflicting navigational information makes it more difficult for boaters to safely navigate in an area with a long history of groundings and hits.”
Pingree said many of her First District constituents share her concern about the disestablishment of these daybeacons, and urged the USCG to “protect the safety of boaters in Penobscot Bay and rebuild the Drunkard Ledge and Fiddler Ledge Daybeacons with high-quality, durable materials.”
Mariners and concerned members of the public can send comments to D01-SMB-DPWPublicComments@uscg.mil.
The full letter is available here.
More than 30,000 Mainers rely on water-related industries for their livelihoods. Yet, despite Maine having more than 5,000 miles of shoreline, just 20 miles of working waterfronts remain in the state.
Pingree has long advocated for federal resources to help Maine communities preserve and expand shoreline access and infrastructure for water-dependent industries such as fishing, boat building, and aquaculture. She first introduced legislation to protect working waterfronts in the 111th Congress. The legislation was passed in the by the House 116th Congress but did not receive a vote in the Senate. Pingree and Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Va.) reintroduced the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act in May 2021.