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e-CFR data is current as of September 17, 2020

Title 33Chapter ISubchapter PPart 162 → §162.117

Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters

§162.117   St. Marys River, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

(a) The area. The waters of the St. Marys River and lower Whitefish Bay from 45°57 N. (De Tour Reef Light) to the south, to 46°38.7 N. (Ile Parisienne Light) to the north, except the waters of the St. Marys Falls Canal, and to the east along a line from La Pointe to Sims Point, within Potagannissing Bay and Worsley Bay.

(b) Definitions. As used in this section:

Two-way route means a directional route within defined limits inside which two-way traffic is established, and which is intended to improve safety in waters where navigation is difficult.

Two-way traffic means that traffic flow is permitted in opposing directions, but a vessel may not meet, cross, nor overtake any other vessel in such a manner that it would be abreast of more than one other vessel within the defined limits of a waterway.

(c) Anchoring Rules.

(1) A vessel must not anchor:

(i) within the waters between Brush Point and the waterworks intake crib off Big Point southward of the Point Aux Pins range; or

(ii) within 0.2 nautical miles of the intake crib off Big Point.

(2) In an emergency, vessels may anchor in a dredged channel. Vessels shall anchor as near to the edge of the channel as possible and shall get underway as soon as the emergency ceases, unless otherwise directed. Vessel Traffic Services St. Marys River must be advised of any emergency anchoring as soon as is practicable.

(3) Vessels collected in any part of the VTS Area by reason of temporary closure of a channel or an impediment to navigation shall get underway and depart in the order in which they arrived, unless otherwise directed by Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River. Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River may advance any vessel in the order of departure to expedite the movement of mails, passengers, cargo of a perishable nature, to facilitate passage of vessels through any channel by reason of special circumstance, or to facilitate passage through the St. Marys Falls Canal.

(d) Traffic Rules. (1) A vessel must proceed only in the established direction of traffic flow in the following waters:

(i) West Neebish Channel from Buoy “53” to Buoy “1”—downbound traffic only;

(ii) Pipe Island Course from Sweets Point to Watson Reefs Light-downbound traffic only.

(iii) Middle Neebish Channel from Buoy “2” to Buoy “76”—upbound traffic only; and

(iv) Pipe Island Passage to the east of Pipe Island Shoal and north of Pipe Island Twins from Watson Reefs Light to Sweets Point—upbound traffic only.

(2) A vessel 350 feet or more in length must not overtake or approach within .2 nautical miles of another vessel proceeding in the same direction in the following waterways:

(i) West Neebish Channel between Nine Mile Point and Munuscong Lake Junction Lighted Bell Buoy;

(ii) Middle Neebish Channel between Munuscong Lake Junction Lighted Bell Buoy and Nine Mile Point; and

(iii) Little Rapids Cut from Six Mile Point to Buoy “102”.

(3) When two-way traffic is authorized in Middle Neebish Channel, a vessel 350 feet or more in length must not meet, cross, or overtake another vessel at:

(i) Johnson Point from Buoy “18” to Buoy “22”;

(ii) Mirre Point from Buoy “26” to Buoy “28”; or

(iii) Stribling Point from Buoy “39” to Buoy “43”.

(4) Paragraph (d)(2) of this section does not apply to a vessel navigating through an ice field.

(e) Winter Navigation. During the winter navigation season, the following waterways are normally closed:

(1) West Neebish Channel, from Buoy “53” to Buoy “1”;

(2) Pipe Island Passage to the east of Pipe Island Shoal; and

(3) North of Pipe Island Twins, from Watson Reef Light to Sweets Point.

(f) Alternate Winter Navigation Routes. (1) When West Neebish Channel is closed, Middle Neebish Channel (from Buoy “2” to Buoy “76”) will be open either as a two-way route or an alternating one way traffic lane.

(i) When Middle Neebish Channel is a two-way route:

(A) An upbound vessel must use the easterly 197 feet of the channel. However, a vessel of draft 20 feet or more must not proceed prior to Vessel Traffic Center approval; and

(B) A downbound vessel must use the westerly 295 feet of the channel.

(ii) When Middle Neebish Channel is an alternating one-way traffic lane. A vessel must use the westerly 295 feet of the channel in the established direction of traffic flow.

(2) When Pipe Island Passage is closed, Pipe Island Course is a two-way route.

Note: The Vessel Traffic Service closes or opens these channels as ice conditions require after giving due consideration to the protection of the marine environment, waterway improvements, aids to navigation, the need for cross channel traffic (e.g., ferries), the availability of icebreakers, and the safety of the island residents who, in the course of their daily business, must use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland. Under normal seasonal conditions, only one closing each winter and one opening each spring are anticipated. Prior to closing or opening these channels, interested parties including both shipping entities and island residents, will be given at least 72 hours notice by the Coast Guard.

(g) Speed Rules. (1) The following speed limits indicate speed over the ground. Vessels must adhere to the following speed limits:

Table 162.117(g)—St. Marys River Speed Rules

Maximum speed limit between Mph Kts
De Tour Reef Light and Sweets Point Light1412.2
Round Island Light and Point Aux Frenes Light “21”1412.2
Munuscong Lake Lighted Buoy “8” and Everens Point1210.4
Everens Point and Reed Point97.8
Reed Point and Lake Nicolet Lighted Buoy “62”108.7
Lake Nicolet Lighted Buoy “62” and Lake Nicolet Light “80”1210.4
Lake Nicolet Light “80” and Winter Point (West Neebish Channel)108.7
Lake Nicolet Light “80” and Six Mile Point Range Rear Light108.7
Six Mile Point Range Rear Light and lower limit of the St. Marys Falls Canal
Upper limit of the St. Marys Falls Canal and Point Aux Pins Main Light1210.4

Note: A vessel must not navigate any dredged channel at a speed of less than 5 statute miles per hour (4.3 knots).

(2) Temporary speed limit regulations may be established by Commanding Officer Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River. Notice of the temporary speed limits and their effective dates and termination are published in the Federal Register and Local Notice to Mariners. These temporary speed limits, if imposed, will normally be placed in effect and terminated during the winter navigation season.

(h) Towing Requirement. A towing vessel must: (1) Maintain positive control of its tow south of Gros Cap Reef Light;

(2) Not impede the passage of any other vessel;

(3) Not tow a vessel of 200 feet or less in length with a tow line longer than 250 feet; and

(4) Not tow a vessel of 200 feet or more in length with a tow line longer than the length of the towed vessel plus 50 feet.

[CGD 90-020, 59 FR 36333, July 15, 1994, as amended by CGD 95-033, 60 FR 28333, May 31, 1995; USCG-1998-3799, 63 FR 35532, June 30, 1998; USCG-2003-15404, 68 FR 37741, June 25, 2003]

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