Every year, the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office observes a number of equipment and safety violations on our lakes. Most of these are very easy to correct.
Common equipment violations include boat registration, navigational lights, PFD (life jacket), horn and fire extinguisher.
Watercraft registration has to be current. The registration expires Dec. 31 of the year listed on the decal.
Navigational lights must be in working order and on from sunset to sunrise.
A horn or whistle must be operational on boats 16 feet and longer.
Each person aboard a watercraft must have an approved PFD readily accessible. Children under age 10 must be wearing their PFD when the craft is under way.
Anyone aboard a personal watercraft must wear an approved PFD. Boats 16 feet or longer must have a Type IV (throwable) readily accessible.
Remember: Kayaks, canoes and paddleboats are watercrafts and must follow PFD requirements.
A working fire extinguisher must be aboard all personal watercrafts and boats with enclosed engines and/or fuel tanks and all crafts over 25 feet in length.
Common safety violations include personal watercraft violations, over capacity, riding on bow, stern or gunwales.
A personal watercraft must be at slow no wake speed within 150 feet of shore and are not allowed to jump the wake of another watercraft within 150 feet.
The capacity plate lists the maximum number of people and weight allowed on the watercraft. Boaters are not allowed to exceed these amounts.
No person is allowed to ride on the bow, stern, sides (gunwales) or forward of any decking, unless the craft is equipped with an adequate railing.
Tubing is fast becoming an enjoyable sport on our area lakes. Keep in mind that pulling tubers through slow no wake areas and narrow channels can be dangerous. If a person falls off a tube and is in front of another watercraft, they could easily be run over.
The entire 2011 Minnesota DNR Boating Guide can be viewed on the DNR website or picked up at a motor vehicle deputy registrar.
We teach our students the first and last rule of boating safety is to wear your life jacket. So until next time, safe boating and wear your life jacket!
(Sgt. Scott Goddard is the supervisor for the Water Patrol, Dive Team, Civil, Transports and Court Security Divisions of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office. Goddard is a lifelong resident of Crow Wing County and grew up boating and fishing on the Whitefish Chain. He can be contacted at 218-829-4749 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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