May 25, 2021  |  02:03 pm

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Marine Division will be proactively patrolling our waterways over the Memorial Day weekend. 

There are expected to be many watercraft of various sizes on the rivers and lakes as the boating season kicks off for the unofficial start of summer this weekend. With the recent heavy rains, the waterways are high, so please be mindful of your surroundings and of other watercraft around you, and always check the weather forecast before heading out on the water.

The STPSO Marine Division also requests that boaters ensure their vessels are in good working order before launching. Already this year, our deputies have responded to numerous calls for stranded/disabled vessels due to equipment failure. 

The following safety regulations can help to keep you and your family and friends safe while out on the water:

·       Adhere to the boat placard regarding capacity and weight.

·       Utilize navigation lights as required when operating between sunset and sunrise.

·       Have a PFD available for each occupant. (proper size required)

·       Make sure all children 16 and under are wearing a PFD while underway as required by law.

·       Ensure that anyone operating a tiller handle boat under 16 feet in length is wearing a motor shut off lanyard and a PFD while underway.

·       Please obey the posted no wake zone signage and be aware that public boat launches and fuel docks are also no wake zones regardless of signage.

·       Ensure your vessel has the appropriate safety equipment required by law. (sound making device, throw cushion/ring, flares, etc.)

·       Please file a float plan with friends or family by letting them know where you launched/started your trip and when you expect to return.

·       Make sure that anyone operating a Personal Water Craft (jet ski) is 16 years of age and older and do not operate a Personal Water Craft (jet ski) after dark or before sunrise. This is illegal and very dangerous.

·       Ensure that those born after 1984 and operating a vessel or PWC have a boater safety card. 

·       Last but not least, do not drink and drive!  Impaired driving applies to the water as it does the roadway.

Tasked with enforcing all state and local boating regulations, the STPSO Marine Division will have extra patrol boats and deputies on the parish’s waterways throughout the holiday weekend, ensuring that our residents are engaging in safe boating practices. 

“We want everyone to have fun this Memorial Day weekend,” Sheriff Randy Smith said, “but we also want everyone to be safe. Please be careful when out on the water and do not consume alcohol if you are operating a watercraft or plan to be on the water, have the proper equipment, and do not operating your boat or your jet ski in an unsafe manner.”