Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
June, 2015
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Boating Safely, Prepare BEFORE Your Outing

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 Boating Safely, Prepare BEFORE Your Outing

A message from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office

Spring and summer are now upon us. As the weather turns nice, watercraft owners tend to spend more time on the waters of Thurston County. Whether it’s making memories on the lakes or out on Puget Sound, we would like to remind you about boating safety and the laws here in Thurston County.

As the operator of a vessel, you are responsible for having the required safety equipment on board along with knowing the regulations of the particular waterway you are recreating on. Over the next several months, we will have Deputies out patrolling the waterways and performing boat inspections along with educating the public on boating safety.

State law requires all vessel operators born on or after January 1, 1955 to carry a Washington State Boater Education card while operating a vessel of 15 horsepower or more on waterways in Washington. No one under the age of 12 may operate a motorboat and only persons 16 years or older may operate a personal watercraft here in Thurston County. For more information on approved Washington State Parks boating education courses visit this page.

There are several items that are required on board your vessel. Those items include, but are not limited to, life jackets (personal flotation devices) for everyone on board and all life jackets must be readily accessible. The personal floatation device must be US Coast Guard approved and in good, wearable condition. Children 12 and under must wear a life jacket when on vessels under 19 feet long. The vessel must be outfitted with a sounding device and if the vessel is going to be pulling a skier or other device behind it, a 12” x 12” bright red or orange flag on a 24” pole is required. The vessel must be equipped with a fire extinguisher if it has an inboard engine, permanently installed fuel tank, closed compartments where fuel tanks are stored or closed living space.

The operator of a vessel should not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and must stay at least 200 feet from all shorelines, boat launch and swim areas. The speed limit on Black Lake, Long Lake, Summit Lake, Lawrence Lake, Lake St. Claire and Scott Lake is 45 MPH unless otherwise posted. All other public lakes in Thurston County are 5 MPH.

If you have any questions about boating regulations in Thurston County, you may contact Marine Services Deputy Jeff Norton at (360)786-5500 or you can get more information at Sheriff’s Office web site.

Taking some steps before you get in the boat will help you have a fun, and SAFE, time on the water.

By Bryan Goheen

The Sheriff's Patrol Boat. The Sheriff's Patrol Boat.