Oregon Officials Warn Boaters About Weekend Safety
(Salem, Oregon) – The Oregon State Marine Board reminds boaters to be cautious during what is one of the biggest boating weekends of the year, as Labor Day Weekend promises congestion and a touch of chaos on the waterways around Oregon.
The safety reminds stretch from inland riverways to the Oregon coast.
“On the coast, thousands of boaters are hoping to land a salmon, while others are taking advantage of the holiday weekend to float down the Deschutes, Clackamas and other rivers,” said Ashley Massey, Public Affairs Specialist for the Marine Board. “Most lake and reservoir water levels are beginning to drop, so factor in extra time to launch - and bring along a little patience.”
Conflict between boaters and other water users can increase this time of year, so boaters need to pay very close attention to the people enjoying the water around them.
“This is not the time of year to go full-throttle,” Massey said. “With water levels dropping, stumps, deadheads and sand and gravel bars can appear out of nowhere with water depth changes. It’s important to go slow and always keep a sharp lookout when you first get out there.”
Just like sheriff’s deputies on the highways, marine officers will be out in full force on the water to assist boaters and help keep the waterways safe.
“The top violations so far this summer involve not having life jackets, carrying a boater education card or aquatic invasive species permit and not having current boat registration decals. Other violations involve reckless operation and alcohol,” said Massey.
She suggests the following checklist to stay safe and fun this Labor Day weekend:
Wear your life jacket. Each boat (including kayaks, inflatable boats and canoes) must have a properly fitting life jacket for each person on board. Life jackets need to be in good shape and readily accessible - not under a hatch or in its packaging. All youth 12 and younger must wear a life jacket when in a boat that’s underway. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that over half of all boating fatalities occur with small boats on calm waterways, in sunny conditions. Eight-five to 90 percent of boating fatality victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Sit on the seat. The growth of wake surfing is luring many people to ride on the swim platform, stern or sides of the boat. This is a carbon monoxide and prop-strike safety hazard. It is also illegal to ride on bows decks gunwales or transoms of a motor boat when the boat is underway. Sitting on designated seat cushions is the safest place to be.
Slow down and keep a sharp lookout. Always obey the “5-mph, slow-no-wake” buoys or signs. Wakes can contribute to bank erosion and damage docks and other property and boaters are responsible for their wake. Remember to slow down within 200 feet of a dock, launch ramp, marina, moorage, floating home or boathouse, pier or swim float. If not, this is the fastest way to get negative attention from other boaters, property owners, and possibly, a citation.
Carry your boater education card. All boaters operating boats over 10 hp need to have a boater education card. Youth 12-15 who operate a powerboat 0-10 hp alone must carry a boater education card. When operating a powerboat greater than 10 hp, youth must be supervised by a card-holding adult age 16 or older. When operating a personal watercraft, the supervising adult must be 18 or older. Educated boaters are much less likely to be involved in boating accidents because they know the “rules of the road.”
Carry your aquatic invasive species prevention permit. This year, boats 10 feet and longer are required to purchase and carry on aquatic invasive species prevention permit. For registered motorized craft, a $5 surcharge is added onto the boat registration and current decals act as proof of payment into the program. For non-motorized watercraft such as canoes, kayaks and inflatable rafts, the operator needs to physically carry a permit when out on the water. The cost is $7 for non-motorized craft and can be purchased through any ODFW field office or licensing agent. Permits are valid until December 31 of the year issued. This program is self-supporting and permit fees go towards aquatic invasive species detection, decontamination, signage, and education materials for the boating public.
Don’t drink and boat. Officers are looking for intoxicated boat operators on the water and at the boat ramps when leaving the water. If arrested for Boating Under the Influence of Intoxicants (BUII), a violator can be fined $6,250, lose boating privileges for a period of time, and may even serve jail time. The Marine Board encourages boaters (that goes for floaters too) to leave the alcohol on shore. It’s safer for everybody.
For more information on boating safety, visit www.boatoregon.com.