A warm Labor Day weekend approaches and with it come crowds of boaters, be they ski boats, kayaks, stand up paddle boards or inner tubers just floating down the river.
Where ever you go this weekend to cool off and play in the water, expect it to be crowded.
Drought prevents large boat access on popular lakes such as Prineville and Wickiup reservoirs, concentrating people on the few that remain open.
The keys will be patience and safety.
“Waterways are low and hazards are more exposed than they may have been. These may be rocks, logs or submerged stumps or shoals, sandbars and things like that,” said Randy Henry, Boating Safety Manager, Oregon Marine Board. “If you are not familiar with the waterway and even if you are, be careful at the speed you are operating because there may be things just under the surface.”
Boating is a great social activity, but the Oregon Marine Board encourages boaters and people floating on the waterways, to leave alcohol on shore.
If arrested for Boating Under the Influence of Intoxicants (BUII), violators can be fined up to $6,250, can lose boating privileges for up to three years and even serve jail time.
Intoxicants include marijuana, illicit drugs and even some prescription medications.
“We have accidents each year where somebody is going 25, 35 miles per hour and they ground out on a gravel bar or a sandbar. That boat can come to a stop very quickly and people are thrown into a windshield or into the backs of the seats. They come away with cuts, lacerations, contusions and concussions.”
Marine patrol officers will be enforcing slow-no wake zones and other boating laws.
The top boating violations this summer include expired motorboat registration, no life jackets or sound signaling devices, not carrying water access permits on non-motorized boats over 10 feet, and not carrying a boating safety education card.
There have been 10 fatalities thus far this year on Oregon’s waterways.
In nine of those cases, the victims were not wearing life vests.