U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jul 23, 2024

§ 207.20 - Cape Cod Canal, Mass.; use, administration, and navigation.

(a) Limit of Canal. The canal, including approaches, extends from the Canal Station Minus 100 in Cape Cod Bay, approximately one and six-tenths (1.6) statute miles seaward of the Canal Breakwater Light, through dredged channels and land cuts to Cleveland Ledge Light in Buzzards Bay approximately four (4) statute miles southwest of Wings Neck.

(b) Supervision. (1) The movement of ships, boats and craft of every description through the canal and the operation and maintenance of the waterway and all property of the United States pertaining thereto shall be under the supervision of the Division Engineer, U.S. Army Engineer Division, New England, Corps of Engineers, Waltham, Massachusetts, or the authorized representative of the division engineer, the Engineer-In-Charge of the Cape Cod Canal. The division engineer or the Engineer-In-Charge from time to time will prescribe rules governing the dimensions of vessels which may transit the waterway, and other special conditions and requirements which will govern the movement of vessels using the waterway.

(2) The Engineer-In-Charge, through the marine traffic controller on duty, will enforce these regulations and monitor traffic through the canal. The marine traffic controller on duty is the individual responsible for interpretation of these regulations with respect to vessels transiting the canal. Vessels transiting the canal must obey the orders of the marine traffic controller.

(3) The government has tugs stationed at the West Boat Basin for emergency use on an on-call basis. A patrol vessel is manned and operational 24-hours a day.

(c) Communications. There is a marine traffic controller on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in the traffic control center located at the Canal Administrative Office. The primary method of communications between the canal and vessels transiting will be by VHF-FM Marine radio. The traffic controller can also be contacted by telephone.

(1) For radio communications, call the traffic controller on channel 16 to establish contact. The transmissions will then be switched to channel 12 or 14 as the working channel to pass information. Channel 13 is also available at the canal office; however, the use of channel 13 should be limited to emergency situations or whenever vessels do not have one of the other channels. All four channels are monitored continuously by the traffic controller. Radio discipline will be adhered to in accordance with FCC rules and regulations.

(2) For telephone communications with the traffic controller, call (617) 759-4431.

(3) Vessels shall maintain a radio guard on Marine VHF-FM channel 13 during the entire passage through the canal.

(4) All radio communications in the vicinity of the canal are tape recorded for future reference.

(d) Vessels allowed passage. The canal is open for passage to all adequately powered vessels properly equipped and seaworthy, of sizes consistent with safe navigation as governed by the controlling depths and widths of the channel and the vertical and horizontal clearances of the bridges over the waterway. The granting of permission for any vessel to proceed through the waterway shall not relieve the owners, agents and operators of full responsibility for its safe passage. No vessel having a greater draft forward than aft will be allowed to transit the canal. Craft of low power and wind driven are required to have and use auxiliary power during passage throughout the canal as defined in paragraph (a) of this section. Low powered vessels will be required to await slack water or favorable current for canal transit.

(e) Tows. (1) Tows shall be made-up outside the canal entrances. All vessels engaged in towing other vessels not equipped with a rudder shall use two lines or a bridle and one tow line. If the vessel in tow is equipped with a rudder or a ship shaped bow, one tow line may be used. All tow lines of hawsers must be hauled as short as practicable for safe handling of the tows. No towboat will be allowed to enter the waterway with more than two barges in tow unless prior approval is granted by the Engineer-In-Charge; requests must be submitted 12 hours in advance of the passage.

(2) The maximum length of pontoon rafts using the canal will be limited to 600 feet, and the maximum width to 100 feet. Pontoon rafts exceeding 200 feet in length will be required to have an additional tug on the stern to insure that the tow is kept in line. The tugs used must have sufficient power to handle the raft safely.

(3) Dead ships are required to transit the canal during daylight hours and must be provided with the number of tugs sufficient to afford safe passage through the canal. (A dead ship will not be allowed to enter the canal unless prior approval is granted by the Engineer-In-Charge; requests must be submitted 12 hours in advance of the passage).

(f) Dangerous cargoes. The master or pilot of any vessel or tow carrying dangerous cargoes must notify the Marine Traffic Controller prior to entering the canal. Dangerous cargoes are defined as those items listed in 33 CFR 126.10 when carried in bulk (i.e., quantities exceeding 110 U.S. gallons in one tank) plus Class A explosives (commercial or military) as listed in 49 CFR 173.53 (commercial) and 46 CFR 146.29-100 (military), liquified natural gas and liquified petroleum gas. Transportation of dangerous cargoes through the canal shall be in strict accordance with existing regulations prescribed by law. In addition, vessels carrying dangerous cargoes shall comply with the following requirements.

(1) They must have sufficient horsepower to overcome tidal currents or they will be required to wait for favorable current conditions.

(2) Transits will be during daylight hours.

(3) No transit will be permitted when visibility conditions are unstable or less than 2 miles at the approaches and throughout the entire length of the canal.

(4) Transits must await a clear canal for passage.

(g) Obtaining clearance. (1) Vessels under 65 feet in length may enter the canal without obtaining clearance. All craft are required to make a complete passage through the canal except excursion craft which may operate and change direction within the canal in accordance with procedures coordinated with the marine traffic controller on duty. When the railroad bridge span is in the closed (down) position, all vessels are directed not to proceed beyond the points designated by stop signs posted east and west of the railroad bridge. Vessels proceeding with a fair tide (with the current) should turn and stem the current at the designated stop points until the railroad bridge is in the raised (open) position.

(2) Vessels 65 feet in length and over shall not enter the canal until clearance has been obtained from the marine traffic controller by radio. See paragraph (c) “Communications” for procedures. If a vessel, granted prior clearance, is delayed or stops at the mooring basins, state pier, or the Sandwich bulkhead, a second clearance must be obtained prior to continuing passage through the canal.

(3) Vessels will be given clearance in the order of arrival, except when conditions warrant one-way traffic, or for any reason an order of priority is necessary, clearance will be granted in the following order.

(i) First—To vessels owned or operated by the United States, including contractors' equipment employed on canal maintenance or improvement work.

(ii) Second—To passenger vessels.

(iii) Third—To tankers and barges docking and undocking at the Canal Electric Terminal.

(iv) Fourth—To merchant vessels, towboats, commercial fishing vessels, pleasure boats and miscellaneous craft.

(4) Procedures in adverse weather: Vessels carrying flammable or combustible cargoes as defined in 46 CFR 30.25 will be restricted from passage through the canal when visibility is less than 1/2 mile. Other vessels may transit the canal in thick weather by use of radar with the understanding that the U.S. Government will assume no responsibility: And provided, That clearance has been obtained from the marine traffic controller.

(h) Traffic lights. There are three sets of traffic lights showing red, green, and yellow that are operated on a continuous basis at the canal. The traffic lights apply to all vessels 65 feet in length and over. The traffic lights are a secondary system that is operated in support of the radio communications system. The traffic lights are located at the easterly canal entrance, Sandwich, and at the westerly entrance to Hog Island Channel at Wings Neck. A third traffic light is located at the Canal Electric Terminal basin on the south side of the canal in Sandwich, and applies only to vessels arriving and departing that terminal.

(1) Westbound traffic. When the green light is on at the eastern (Cape Cod Bay) entrance, vessels may proceed westward through the canal. When the red light is on, any type of vessel 65 feet in length and over must stop clear of the Cape Cod Bay entrance channel. When the yellow light is on, vessels 65 feet in length and over and drawing less than 25 feet may proceed as far as the East Mooring Basin where they must stop. Prior to continuing passage through the canal, clearance must be obtained from the marine traffic controller.

(2) Eastbound traffic. When the green light is on at Wings Neck, vessels may proceed eastward through the canal. When the red light is on, vessels 65 feet and over in length and drawing less than 25 feet must keep southerly of Hog Island Channel Entrance Buoys Nos. 1 and 2 and utilize the general anchorage areas adjacent to the improved channel. Vessel traffic drawing 25 feet and over are directed not to enter the canal channel at the Cleveland Ledge Light entrance and shall lay to or anchor in the vicinity of Buzzards Bay Buoy No. 11 (FLW & Bell) until clearance is granted by the canal marine traffic controller or a green traffic light at Wings Neck is displayed. When the yellow light is on, vessels may proceed through Hog Island Channel as far as the West Mooring Basin where they must stop. Prior to continuing passage through the canal, clearance must be obtained from the marine traffic controller.

(i) Railroad Bridge Signals. The following signals at the Buzzards Bay Railroad Bridge will be given strict attention.

(1) The vertical lift span on the railroad bridge is normally kept in the raised (open) position except when it is lowered for the passage of trains, or for maintenance purposes. Immediately preceding the lowering of the span, the operator will sound two long blasts of an air horn. Immediately preceding the raising of the span, the operator will sound one long blast of an air horn. When a vessel or craft of any type is approaching the bridge with the span in the down (closed) position and the span cannot be raised immediately, the operator of the bridge will so indicate by sounding danger signals of four short blasts in quick succession.

(2) When the lift span is in the down (closed) position in foggy weather or when visibility is obscured by vapor, there will be four short blasts sounded from the bridge every two minutes.

(j) Speed. All vessels are directed to pass mooring and boat basin facilities, the state pier, and all floating plant engaged in maintenance operations of the waterway at a minimum speed consistent with safe navigation. In order to coordinate scheduled rail traffic with the passage of vessels, to minimize erosion of the canal banks and dikes from excessive wave wash and suction, and for the safety of vessels using the canal, the following speed regulations must be observed by vessels of all types, including pleasure craft. The minimum running time for the land cut between the East Mooring Basin (Station 35) and the Administration Office in Buzzards Bay (Station 388) is prescribed as follows:

Head Tide—60 Minutes Fair Tide—30 Minutes Slack Tide—45 Minutes The minimum running time between the Administration Office (Station 388) and Hog Island Channel westerly entrance Buoy No. 1 (Station 661) is prescribed as follows: Head Tide—46 Minutes Fair Tide—23 Minutes Slack Tide—35 Minutes The running time at slack water will apply to any vessel which enters that portion of the canal between stations 35 and 661, within the period of one-half hour before or after the predicted time of slack water as given in the National Ocean Survey publication “Current Tables, Atlantic Coast, North America.” The minimum running time during a head tide or a fair tide shall apply to any vessel which enters that portion of the canal between Station 35 and 661 at any time other than designated above for time requirements at slack tide. Vessels of any kind unable to make a through transit of the land cut portion of the canal against a head current of 6.0 knots within a maximum time limit of 2 hours 30 minutes shall be required to obtain the assistance of a helper tug at the vessel owner's expense or await favorable tide conditions prior to receiving clearance from the marine traffic controller. In the event vessels within the confines of the canal fail to perform and are unable to make sufficient headway against the currents, the marine traffic controller may activate a helper tug in accordance with paragraph (k) of this section.

(k) Management of vessels. (1) Vessels within the limits of the canal shall comply with applicable navigation rules.

(2) Vessels within the limits of the canal shall comply with the applicable requirements for the use of pilots established by the Coast Guard, including but not limited to those contained in 46 CFR 157.20-40. Vessels will not be granted clearance to enter the canal until the marine traffic controller has been notified of the name of the pilot who will be handling the vessel.

(3) The master of a vessel will be responsible for notifying the marine traffic controller as soon as an emergency situation appears to be developing. When in the opinion of the marine traffic controller an emergency exists, he/she can require the master to accept the assistance of a helper vessel. Whether or not assistance is provided by a government vessel or by a private firm under contract to the government, the government reserves the right to seek compensation from the vessel owners for all costs incurred.

(4) Right-of-Way: All vessels proceeding with the current shall have the right-of-way over those proceeding against the current. All craft up to 65 feet in length shall be operated so as not to interfere with the navigation of vessels of greater length.

(5) Passing of vessels: The passing of one vessel by another when proceeding in the same direction is prohibited except when a leading low powered ship is unable to make sufficient headway. However, extreme caution must be observed to avoid collision, and consideration must be given to the size of the ship to be overtaken, velocity of current and wind, and atmospheric conditions. Masters of vessels involved shall inform the marine traffic controller on duty of developing situations to facilitate coordination of vessel movement. Meeting or passing of vessels at the easterly end of the canal between Station Minus 40 and Station 60 will not be permitted, except in cases of extreme emergency, in order to allow vessels to utilize the center line range to minimize the effects of hazardous eddies and currents. Due to bank suction and tidal set, meeting and passing of vessels at the following locations will be avoided:

(i) Sagamore Bridge.

(ii) Bourne Bridge.

(iii) Railroad Bridge.

(iv) Mass Maritime Academy.

(6) Unnecessary delay in canal: Vessels and other type crafts must not obstruct navigation by unnecessarily idling at low speed when entering or passing through the canal.

(7) Stopping in the waterway: Anchoring in the Cape Cod Canal Channel is prohibited except in emergencies. For the safety of canal operations it is mandatory that the masters of all vessels anchoring in or adjacent to the canal channel (Cape Cod Bay to Cleveland Ledge Light) for any reason, immediately notify the marine traffic controller.

(8) Utilization of mooring and boat basins and the Sandwich Bulkhead: Vessels mooring or anchoring in the mooring or boat basins at the Sandwich bulkhead must do so in a manner not to obstruct or impede vessel movements to and from facilities. These facilities are of limited capacity and permission to occupy them for periods exceeding 24 hours must be obtained in advance from the marine traffic controller. Mooring in the West Boat Basin at Buzzards Bay, near the railroad bridge, is not permitted except in an emergency. Fishing boats, yachts, cabin cruisers and other craft utilizing the East Boat Basin on the south side of the canal at Sandwich, Massachusetts are not permitted to tie up at the Corps of Engineers landing float or anchor in a manner to prevent canal floating plant from having ready access to the float. All vessels or barges left unattended must be securely tied with adequate lines or cables. The United States assumes no liability for damages which may be sustained by any craft using the bulkhead at Sandwich or the canal mooring or boat basin facilities. Vessels shall not be left unattended along the face of the government bulkhead. A responsible person with authority to authorize and/or accomplish vessel movement must remain onboard at all times.

(l) Grounded, wrecked or damaged vessels. In the event a vessel is grounded, or so damaged by accident as to render it likely to become an obstruction and/or hazard to navigation in the waterway, the division engineer or the division engineer's authorized representative shall supervise and direct all operations that may be necessary to remove the vessel to a safe locality.

(m) [Reserved]

(n) Deposit of refuse. No oil or other allied liquids, ashes, or materials of any kind shall be thrown, pumped or swept into the canal or its approaches from any vessel or craft using the waterway, nor shall any refuse be deposited on canal grounds, marine structures, or facilities.

(o) Trespass to property. Subject to the provisions of paragraph (q) of this section trespass upon the canal property is prohibited.

(p) Bridges over the canal. The government owns, operates and maintains all bridges across the canal which include one railroad bridge and two highway bridges. The division engineer or his/her authorized representative may establish rules and regulations governing the use of these bridges.

(q) Recreational use of canal—(1) Policy. (i) It is the policy of the Secretary of the Army acting through the Chief of Engineers to provide the public with safe and healthful recreational opportunities within all water resource development projects administered by the Chief of Engineers, including the canal and government lands part thereof. Any recreational use of the canal and those lands shall be at the users own risk.

(ii) All water resource development projects open for recreational use shall be available to the public without regard to sex, race, creed, color or national origin. No lessee, licensee, or concessionaire providing a service to the public shall discriminate against any person or persons because of sex, race, creed, color or national origin in the conduct of operations under the lease, license or concession contract.

(2) Motor vehicles. Operation of motor vehicles, motorcycles, minibikes, mopeds, motorbikes, snowmobiles, and all types of off-road vehicles is prohibited on government lands and service roads except in areas specifically designated for such operation.

(3) Swimming. Swimming, skin diving, snorkeling, and scuba diving in the canal between the east entrance in Cape Cod Bay and the west entrance at Cleveland Ledge Light are prohibited. Diving operations may be authorized by the Engineer-In-Charge in conjunction with operation and maintenance of the canal.

(4) Camping. Overnight tenting or camping on government land is prohibited except in areas designated by the division engineer. Bourne Scenic Park and Scusset Beach State Reservation are designated camping areas. Persons asleep during hours of darkness in or out of vehicles shall be considered as campers.

(5) Fishing. Persons may fish with rod and line from the banks of the canal on Federally owned property except areas designated by the division engineer. Fishing and lobstering by boat in the Cape Cod Canal between the east entrance in Cape Cod Bay and the west entrance at Cleveland Ledge Light are prohibited. Fishing by boat is permitted in the area west of the State Pier in Buzzards Bay, provided that all craft stay out of the channel defined by U.S. Coast Guard buoys and beacons. Fish and game laws of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will be enforced.

(6) Hunting. Hunting is permitted in accordance with game laws of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

(7) Fires. No open fires will be allowed at any time except by special permission and then shall be continuously overseen and in compliance with state or town laws.

(8) Control of animals and pets. (i) No person shall bring or have horses in camping, picnic, swimming beaches or developed recreation areas.

(ii) No person shall bring dogs (except seeing eye dogs), cats, or other pets into developed recreation areas unless penned, caged, or on a leash no longer than six feet or otherwise under physical restrictive controls at all time.

(9) Restrictions. (i) The division engineer may establish a reasonable schedule of visiting hours for all or portions of the project area and close or restrict the public use of all or any portion of the project by the posting of appropriate signs indicating the extent and scope of closure. All persons shall observe such posted restrictions.

(ii) The operation or use of any audio or other noise producing device including, but not limited to, communications media and vehicles in such a manner as to unreasonably annoy, endanger persons or affect vessel traffic through the canal is prohibited.

(10) Explosives, firearms, other weapons and fireworks. (i) The possession of loaded firearms, ammunition, projectile firing devices, bows and arrows, crossbows, and explosives of any kind is prohibited unless in the possession of a law enforcement officer or Government employee on official duty or used for hunting during the hunting season as permitted under paragraph (q)(6) of this section, or unless written permission has been received from the division engineer.

(ii) The possession or use of fireworks is prohibited unless written permission has been received from the division engineer.

(11) Public property. Destruction, injury, defacement or removal of public property including natural formations, historical and archeological features and vegetative growth is prohibited without written permission of the division engineer.

(12) Abandonment of personal property. (i) Abandonment of personal property is prohibited. Personal property shall not be left unattended upon the lands or waters of the project except in accordance with this regulation. After a period of 24 hours, abandoned or unattended personal property shall be impounded and stored at a storage point designated by the division engineer. The division engineer shall assess a reasonable impoundment fee, which shall be paid before the impounded property is returned to its owners.

(ii) The division engineer shall, by public or private sales or otherwise, dispose of all lost, abandoned, or unclaimed personal property that comes into his/her custody or control. However, efforts should be made to find the owner, the owner's heirs or next of kin, or legal representatives. If the owner, heirs or next of kin, or legal representative is determined but not found, the property may not be disposed of until the expiration of 120 days after the date when notice, giving the time and place of the intended sale or other disposition, has been sent by certified or registered mail to that person at last known address. When diligent effort to determine the owner, owner's heirs or next of kin, or legal representative is unsuccessful, the property may be disposed of without delay, except that if it has a fair market value of $25 or more the property generally may not be disposed of until three months after the date it is received at the Cape Cod Canal Administrative Office. The net proceeds from the sale of property shall be placed into the Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts.

(13) Lost and found articles. All abandoned/lost articles shall be deposited by the finder at the Canal Administration office or with Canal ranger. The finder shall leave his/her name, address, and phone number. All lost articles shall be disposed of in accordance with procedures set forth in paragraph (q)(12) of this section.

(14) Advertisement. Advertising by the use of billboards, signs, markers, audio devices or any other means whatever is prohibited unless written permission has been received from the division engineer.

(15) Commercial activities. The engaging in or solicitation of business without the written permission of the division engineer is prohibited.

(16) Unauthorized structures. The construction or placing of any structure of any kind under, upon or over the project lands or water is prohibited unless a permit has been issued by the division engineer. Structures not under permit are subject to summary removal by the division engineer.

(17) Special events. Prior approval must be obtained from the Engineer-In-Charge for special events, recreational programs and group activities. The public shall not be charged any fee by the sponsor of such event unless the division engineer has approved in writing the proposed schedule of fees.

(18) Interference with government employees. Interference with any government employee in the conduct of official duties pertaining to the administration of these regulations is prohibited.

[45 FR 51552, Aug. 4, 1980; 45 FR 60430, Sept. 12, 1980, as amended at 56 FR 13765, Apr. 4, 1991]