Boaters should observe the following rules:
• All vessels must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest for each person. The life jacket must fit the person intending to wear it. A new boating law states that children under the age of 13 must wear a lifejacket when on a vessel 26 feet or less in length.
• You must be 16 or older to operate a power boat or personal watercraft.
• All persons on a personal watercraft or being towed behind a vessel are required to wear an approved lifejacket.
• Boats more than 16 feet in length must be equipped with an approved, throwable and readily accessible flotation device.
• 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.
• Always carry onboard 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.
• The Marine Services Unit will be enforcing the no-tow zone in Indian Slough from Discovery Bay to Orwood Resort. This includes Werner Cut.
• No person can operate any vessel, water skis or similar device under the influence of drugs or with an alcohol level of .08 percent or more.
• Boating under the influence (BUI) enforcement will be a high priority for Marine Services deputies.
Those arrested for BUI will face the same consequences as those who drive a motor vehicle under the influence, including fines and possible incarceration. In 2009, the Sheriff’s Office arrested 12 boaters for BUI.
“The ABC’s of Boating” handbook is available from most boating shops. The Marine Services Unit will be distributing them this weekend as well. Boaters can also visit the California Department of Boating and Waterways Web site, www.dbw.ca.gov, for more boating safety information.