With the Memorial Day weekend and the opening of boating season upon us, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Marine Services Unit would like to remind boaters to be safe, alert and obey the rules. “By following the rules, having proper gear and equipment and boating safely, everyone can enjoy the Delta,” said Lieutenant Jose Beltran of the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office.
Additionally, 11 marine patrol units from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will be conducting a boating safety enforcement operation called Delta Blitz on Sunday, May 25, 2014. The multi-agency operation is intended to promote safe boating through education and strict enforcement on the waterways around Discovery Bay and Ski Beach.
The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office Marine Services Unit would like to remind boaters of the following rules: -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 wear a life jacket.
- You must be 16 years old or above 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 a 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 over-taken 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. 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. Boaters are encouraged to call Sheriff’s Dispatch at (925) 646-2441 for emergencies on the water. Be sure to file a float plan before you depart.
Boating under the influence (B.U.I.) enforcement will be 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 incarceration.
The ‘ABC’s of Boating’, a handbook of boating rules, is available from most boating shops. The Marine Services Unit will be distributing them this weekend as well. Boaters can also go to the California Department of Boating and Waterways website -dbw.ca.gov – for more boating safety information.