Oregon Marine Board
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News Releases
Prime Your Boating Safety Education and "Spring Aboard" - 03/12/19

Spring is right around the corner and March is a great month for brushing up on boating safety education before warm weather calls.  The Oregon State Marine Board encourages all boaters and their passengers, regardless of the activity, to take a boating education course before the boating season gets underway.  The Marine Board is teaming up with other states to promote the “Spring Aboard” campaign before the boating season begins.  The Marine Board also encourages having a “second in command” in case of an emergency, as an important safety intervention.  Many online course providers are offering a 50% off discount for their boating safety courses and many Oregon classroom providers are offering free classes or discounts during the week of March 17-23.

“Educated boaters are safer on the water,” says MariAnn McKenzie, Boating Education Coordinator for the Marine Board.  “There are no lanes to follow, so it’s important to know what to do if a boat is coming at you head on or how to take a wave,” McKenzie adds.  “It’s also important to have another person on board who can take immediate control of the boat if something happens to the operator.  We’re hoping that more than one family member or friend can step in and get educated about safe and responsible boat operation and fill the role of a second in command.  This campaign incentive is a great way to get started.” 

Education courses cover safety for all kinds of boats and what equipment to carry, and also cover boat ramp etiquette, courtesy, navigation rules of the road, and highlight the needs of different water recreationists so everyone can safely share the water.  McKenzie adds, “Education is the best preparation -and the more the merrier.”

Fifty (50) states and U.S. territories require some form of mandatory education courses for operators of some powered boats.  For more information about the Marine Board’s approved courses, visit https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/boater-info/Pages/Boater-Education-Cards.aspx.

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Willamette River near downtown Salem with heavy debris.
Willamette River near downtown Salem with heavy debris.
Boating Safety Reminders with High Water, Debris (Photo) - 03/04/19

Winter storms and high water also mean that you can count on downed trees creating obstructions to navigation on our statewide “liquid highways.”  The Marine Board wants to remind boaters about key safety measures when the water is high and full of debris:

  • High water can impact the visibility of aids to navigation (ATONs) and other waterway markers. Please use aids with caution.
  • Scout river runs and have a float plan.  Make sure family and friends know where you’re boating and when you expect to return. 
  • Make sure all of your equipment and emergency gear is good condition.  Mechanical issues contribute to accidents and lack of communication equipment such as a VHF-marine radio, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), or even cell phone can lead to timely delays if rescue is needed.
  • Extreme caution should also be taken during launching and retrieving due to high volumes of marine debris (logs, strainers, garbage, etc.).  Boaters need to start out slow and keep an extra sharp lookout for floating and partially submerged debris to avoid damaging their boats.  Look for subtle changed in the water's surface and the water dynamics ahead.  Be prepared to portage around log jams. 
  • Currents are also very strong, adding to the complexity of wind or tide impacts to the movement of your boat. Anchoring is particularly challenging with a strong current. Always anchor from the bow and have the rode (length of the line and chain) between 7-10 times the water depth.  More rode is required right now, so factor in a few more feet.  Pick a spot upwind, allowing for drift. When the anchor hits bottom, remember to give a solid pull to set the anchor, and then secure the line to a bow cleat. 
  • Don't boat alone. The river conditions require extra hands and extra lookouts.
  • Dress for the water conditions, not the air temperature. The waterways are cold with fresh snow melt.  Falling overboard will cause an immediate gasp reflex and cold water shock.  It's easy to take in water to the lungs. Wear a life jacket on the outside of your clothing.  A life jacket will help keep you warm and keep your head above the water.

“Proper prior planning” leads to a safe and enjoyable boating experience.

Find out where there are reported navigation obstructions at www.boatoregon.com.

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