The Memorial Day holiday weekend traditionally marks the start of boating season on the Delta. Significant num- bers of boaters are expected to be on the water this summer, especially on the weekends, to go fishing, boating or take part in other recreational activities, like water-skiing.
The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Marine Services Unit would like to remind all boaters to be safe, alert, and obey the rules. Here are some important ones:
-As of January 1, 2019, anyone 25 or under who operates a vessel that is propelled by an engine, regardless of whether the engine is the principal source of propulsion, must have in their possession a California Boater Card issued by the state. For more information on the California Boater Card, go to https:www.dbw.ca.gov.
-All vessels must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person. The life jacket must fit the person intending to wear it. Children under 13 must always wear a life jacket while aboard any vessel, regardless of length, unless they are surrounded by an enclosed cabin or bulkhead.
-You must be at least 16 years old to operate a power boat or personal watercraft. All persons on a personal watercraft are required to wear an approved life jacket.
-Boats over 16 feet are required to have an approved throwable flotation device which must be readily accessible.
-Always travel at a safe speed. Slow down in narrow channels and blind areas and navigate on the right side of the waterway. At a cross waterway, the boat on the right has the right of way.
-Blue Light law — Any vessel approaching, overtaking, being approached, or being overtaken by a moving law enforcement vessel operating with a siren or an illuminated blue light, or any vessel approaching a stationary law enforcement vessel displaying an illuminated blue light, shall immediately slow to a speed sufficient to maintain steerage. Boaters cannot make a wake near a law enforcement vessel displaying a blue light.
-Always have an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, warm clothing, cell phone, VHF radio and chart. For emergencies on the water, boaters should call 911 or Sheriff’s Dispatch at (925) 646-2441. Be sure to file a float plan before you depart.
Boating under the influence (B.U.I.) enforcement is a high priority. Those arrested for B.U.I. will face the same consequences as those who drive a motor vehicle under the influence, including fines and possible jail time.
The ‘ABC’s of Boating’, a handbook of boating rules, is available from most boating shops. Boaters can go to the California Division of Boating and Waterways website at http://www.dbw.ca.gov for information on boating safety and the California Boater Card. If anyone has any questions about boating safety, please contact the Marine Services Unit at (925) 427-8507.