Be safe on the water when you're boating
There are many opportunities to explore Oregon's waterways.
Regardless of what's calling you to the water and the type of boat you're in, be sure to plan ahead, pay attention and share the water so everyone can have a fun time. The Oregon State Marine Board invites boaters to explore the interactive Boating Oregon Map, where you can find a boat ramp near you, plan for a weekend escape to places less-frequented or find a waterway in the center of all the
"This season is off to a great start," says Ashley Massey, Public Information Officer for the Marine Board. "Take time to plan ahead. Check the we-ather forecast, water levels or tides, see if there are any reported obstructions, and have the right gear for the activities you're doing," Massey adds. Boaters can check the Marine Board's website to find out what equipment is required based on the size of the boat and rules for operation which vary by waterbody.
Massey also emphasizes paying attention to your surroundings, continually scanning port to starboard and keeping a close eye on what's ahead. "Brush up on the rules-of-the-road, start out slow because of debris in the water from this past winter, and whatever you do, don't text and drive. In 2017, there were 17 collisions from distracted driving. Social media, taking pictures and texting can be fun, but the operator needs to maintain focus and awareness to what's going on around them," says Massey.
"High water levels in the spring cover many wing dams (also known as pile dikes) on rivers and bays and are just below the surface. Boaters need to keep their distance from the shoreline up to several hundred feet out from shore so they don't inadvertently hit one of the piles." Boaters are encouraged to learn where the wing dams are located based on the waterbody where they're boating from NOAA Charts. The navigation charts can be downloaded for free.
With Oregon's population increasing and many people wanting to boat in their own backyards, think about taking a "dispersion excursion" to lesser-known waterbodies, especially for people new to paddlesports or seeking more solitude. There are 96 waterways where motors are prohibited and 50 designated as electric motor only. Visit the Marine Board's Experience Oregon Boating Handbook for more information about these regulated areas for paddlers and easy accessibility.
For more information about safe boating in Oregon, visit www.boatoregon.com.