Safe Boating Week kicked off this weekend, and that means more now than ever, because there’s more momentum at work than ever.
Check this out: The Water Sports Foundation reported that some 830,000 new boat owners have taken to the water since the COVID pandemic began. That’s a lot of newbies joining our ranks, and with all that newness comes mistakes. It goes with the territory.
Memorial Day weekend brings a special warning, if only because this holiday weekend kicks off all sorts of angling adventures – the long-awaited recreational red snapper season begins Friday and the tournament CCA Summer Show and Angler’s Rodeo (the STAR) begin Saturday.
Boating safety courses have reduced the number of accidents on the water, but the two things that education has not stemmed are the need to wear life jackets and the continued compulsion of boat owners to drink alcohol and driving boats.
“Safe Boating Week is a good time to make sure your boat and all your safety gear is ready to go,” Major said. clay marksthe administrator of the State Fish and Wildlife Boating Safety Act.
“We want people to have fun on the water, but do it in a safe and responsible way. It starts with wearing a personal flotation device (life jacket) and having a sober operator.
Last year, our state recorded 26 boating-related deaths and 19 of them were not wearing life jackets. With 10 fatalities this year, we are about to repeat the 2021 figure with the same percentage of vests with no life jackets.
Marques said now is a good time for boat owners to do a full inspection of their boats, first to make sure they have all the required safety equipment, and second to make sure they ensure that the boat, engines and outboards, wiring, fuel tanks, filters and switches are working.
Additionally, state Law Enforcement Division officers and most Parish Sheriff’s Water Patrol officers will be on the water through Memorial Day. So don’t be surprised if you get stopped for a boating safety check and a sobriety check.
A pre-pandemic year, as many as 20 boat operators were cited for drunk driving during that week. Be aware that anyone convicted of a DWI on the water is subject to the same penalties as DWI convictions on the road, penalties such as loss of driver’s license, boating privileges and court fines, without talk about what it does for insurance.
In addition, control may include officers requesting a boating permit. Yes, state law requires that anyone born after January 1, 1984 be required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrator boating training course to operate a motorboat powered by an engine over of 10 horsepower. So if you are 38 or younger, you need the certificate.
To schedule a free boating safety course, go to this wildlife and fishing website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/boater-education.
And find all the nautical regulations and life jackets on the agency’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov then click on the “Navigation” tab.
Just to let you know there are three new boating regulations.
The first is fire extinguishers: Boats under 26 feet and “model year 2017 or older may continue to carry older, dated or undated BI or B-II disposable extinguishers. When they are no longer serviceable or have reached 12 years from manufacture, they should be replaced with newer class 5-B or higher extinguishers.
“Boats under 26 feet and model year 2018 or newer must carry unexpired 5-B, 10-B, or 20-B fire extinguishers.”
However, pleasure craft 26 feet or less in length are exempt from the requirement to carry a fire extinguisher only if “the boat is equipped with an outboard motor, the fuel is in a portable fuel tank and it there are no areas inside the boat where fuel vapors can be trapped.”
The best advice is to bring an approved fire extinguisher.
Next is the new requirement for an engine cut-off switch.
As of April 1 last year, “vessel operators (must) use either a helm or outboard lanyard or a wireless engine cut-off switch (ECOS) on certain vessels under 26ft when ‘they travel by plane or above travel speed’.
The explanation is that boat operators have a working engine cut-off device installed at the helm (on center console boats) or on the outboard motor or have a wireless cut-off switch, or on crafted boats from January 2020.
The exception is “if the ship’s main helm is in an enclosed cabin or the ship is not running on plane or at displacement speed”, and includes things like fishing or docking at low speed or if the engine of the boat (motor) produces less than 115 pounds of static thrust, which is about the size of a two-horsepower motor.
A third rule change allows boats to carry electronic visual distress signals that cost around $100, and new batteries are required. The Coast Guard has changed regulations to address issues with disposing of expired pyrotechnic flares. These new distress signaling devices use either a white LED light or a combination of orange-red/cyan LED lights with infrared for night vision rescuers. For daytime distress boats, owners may continue to use orange distress flags to avoid carrying flares.
You need it
With the recreational red snapper season opening on Friday, anglers must have a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit free of charge to bring red snapper and other reef and offshore species back to the dock.
You must have basic and saltwater fishing licenses in state waters to own these species. To obtain the ROLP, go to the LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov.