As boating season returns to the Delta for the summer, boaters are being reminded to wear a life jacket, travel at safe speeds and carry a boater card.

The advice comes from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office after large numbers of Bay Area boaters flocked to the Delta during Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of boating season, and with waterways expected to remain busy through Labor Day.

“We want everyone to enjoy themselves on the Delta this holiday weekend and during the summer,” said Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston in a statement. “By following the laws and rules and having proper equipment, you could help avoid an accident or tragedy.”

First on the list is carrying a California boater card issued by the state. Anyone 40 or under who operates a vessel propelled by an engine must have one, according to the sheriff’s office. More information on the cards is available from the California Division of Boating and Waterways.

“By following the laws and rules and having proper equipment, you could help avoid an accident or tragedy.”

Sheriff David Livingston

All vessels, including stand-up paddle boards, must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person, the sheriff’s office said. Children under 13 must always wear a life jacket while aboard any vessel, unless they are surrounded by an enclosed cabin or bulkhead.

It is a good idea for anyone, regardless of age, to wear a personal floatation device at all times when on the water, the sheriff’s office said.

Boaters should always travel at safe speeds. “Slow down in narrow channels and blind areas and navigate on the right side of the waterway,” the sheriff’s office said. “In crossing situations, the boat on the right has the right of way.”

You must be at least 16 years old to operate a power boat or personal watercraft, and all persons on a personal watercraft are required to wear an approved life jacket, according to the sheriff’s office.

YouTube video
(Video courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/YouTube)

Boats over 16 feet are required to have a life ring or square type 4 throwable flotation device which must be immediately accessible.

The ABCs of Boating,” a handbook of boating rules, is available online and from most boating shops. Those with questions about boating safety can also contact the sheriff’s office’s marine services unit at 925-427-8507.