SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- With this year’s drought conditions impacting waterways throughout the state and the busy Labor Day weekend ahead, the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways wants to remind recreational boaters that drought conditions may reduce water levels, but not the dangers. When on waterways, boaters are reminded to recreate responsibly by adjusting their activities to the drought conditions as areas that were easily previously accessible may now be different and unfamiliar. Many lakes and reservoirs have restrained boat launch ramp availability or have reduced speed limits.
"We strongly encourage boaters to plan ahead and check the impact of the drought on their favorite waterway before going out on the water,” says DBW Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “And if you visit a new boating location, be sure to exercise caution, wear a life jacket and be prepared."
Here are some safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe on the water:
Know Before Your Go: Contact your local waterway manager to check if your favorite boating location has any operating restrictions. Expert tip: download the BoatCA app for a listing of California boating facilities. If you opt to boat on a different waterway than usual, be sure to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings. Operating on the ocean or river is different than operating on a lake.
Watch for Navigational Hazards: Low water can expose obstructions that could cause harm to you and your boat such as tree branches, snags and sand bars. Keep a proper lookout and heed warnings.
Be Prepared: Before heading out to the water, take a safe boating course and apply for your lifetime California Boater Card. The card is legally required for all operators of motorized vessels on California’s waterways. The law is being phased in based on operator age. For 2021, operators 40 years of age or younger must obtain the card. Visit CaliforniaBoaterCard.com for a complete list of approved courses and to apply for your card.
Equip Your Boat: Make sure you have all required equipment on board. View a virtual safety check to ensure you have the proper equipment. All boaters should wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Leave the Alcohol on Shore: Consuming alcohol negatively impacts vision, balance and reaction times and can cause dehydration. The effects of alcohol are heightened on the water compared to on land, with the environmental stressors such as wind, noise, and vibrations of the boat. Boating under the influence is illegal on all bodies of water. Law enforcement can terminate your voyage and issue citations if you are found to be impaired.
For more tips on how to recreate responsibly or to view California’s boating laws, please visit www.boatcalifornia.com.
With record-setting drought conditions in California, it is imperative that we all do our part to conserve water. Boaters are encouraged to repurpose unused water from their trip and skip the boat wash. Unless you need to rinse the salt water, just wipe the boat down with a damp cloth. For more tips on water conservation, visit SaveOurWater.com.