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Labor Day Weekend on the Water -Wet Fun & Sun
For Immediate Release -8/30/11
Labor Day Weekend is one of the top three boating weekends of the year on many Oregon lakes and rivers.  The Oregon State Marine Board suggests keeping the following in mind to stay safe and have fun this Labor Day weekend:
  • Know your waterway.  “Get familiar with your surroundings when first starting out,” says Ashley Massey, Public Information Officer for the Marine Board.  “Stumps, deadheads and sand and gravel bars can appear out of nowhere with water depth changes. 
  • Know what rules apply to you.  “There are all kinds of watercraft on the market, and it’s important that people know what’s considered a boat vs. a float toy, by state law,” Massey adds.  “If the device has more than one air chamber and is being used for transportation, then the device is considered a boat which requires a properly fitting life jacket for everyone on board and a sound producing device, like a whistle.”  Boathouses, floating homes, air mattresses, beach and water toys or single inner tubes are not considered boats.  “Tie two inner tubes together, then it becomes a boat,” Massey adds.
  • 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 the bow, 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.  Know the boating regulations for your area of operation.  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.  Be courteous with paddlers who are also sharing the waterway.  Wakes can easily swamp low-freeboard paddlecraft.
  • 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.  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 10 feet long and longer, such as canoes, kayaks, sailboats, paddleboards 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-funded and permit fees support aquatic invasive species detection, decontamination, signage, and education materials for the boating public.  One and two-year Tyvek tags are also available through the Marine Board office in Salem or Marine Board dealers.  For a list of Tyvek tag dealers, visit www.boatoregon.com/OSMB/Clean/AISPPFAQsPage.shtml#Where_to_Purchase_Permits.
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.
Marine officers will be 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.  “Boating is a lot of fun, and a long weekend makes it even better,” Massey adds.  “Just remember to plan, scout and pack ahead, so you’re ready for whatever comes your way.”
For more information on boating safety, visit www.boatoregon.com/OSMB/safety.shtml