The main purpose of the Chautauqua County Sheriffs Marine Patrol is to
insure safety on the waterways of this county. This is accomplished by
education of the boating public, vessel inspections for required equipment,
search and rescue operations, and enforcement of the New York State Navigation
The Chautauqua County Sheriffs Office prides itself in having a presence
on the waterways of this county and we have established ourselves as an
agency willing to assist the boating public.
Some of the topics listed in this outline are very general in content
and to be used as a guide for your safety. A much more in-depth rendition
of the laws is available by going on line to the New York State Parks
and Recreation web site. www.nysparks.com
Step 1: Safety equipment for your boat
Flotation devices, or more commonly called life jackets, are
the most important piece of equipment on board any vessel. To dissect
the name; Personal means it is for you and must properly fit you, Flotation
means that is must be capable of floating you the intended wearer, and
Device as it is an item used for the purpose described.
PFD must be Coast Guard Certified and must have a label inside stating
this. It must be in good condition and not showing any signs of rot
or missing straps. All too often people get their PFDs wet and stow
them away in a compartment, only to find out that they have succumbed
to mildew and rot rendering them not safe for use.
must be readily accessible. Do not store your PFD’s in a bag or a
compartment that you can not get to, such as in a cuddy cabin. If
you can not get your PFD when you need it, it is too late. Non use
of PFD is found in over 80% of all drownings, and use of a PFD will
drastically increase your chances of survival in a boating accident.
- On a
row boat, canoe, sail boat and power boat there must be one PFD readily
accessible and in good condition for every person on board the vessel.
child under the age of 12 must be wearing a PFD at all times they
are on board a vessel that is under way. Under way is described as
a vessel that is not at anchor or docked. The exception to this rule
is if the child is inside an enclosed cabin or the vessel is longer
than 65 feet in length.
vessel 16 feet or longer must also carry one type 4 throwable device
with line attached. These devices look like a life ring, however a
coast guard approved seat cushions with line attached is sufficient.
and passengers on PWC must be wearing a PFD at all times.
engaged in water Skiing must be wearing a PFD at all times.
of PFDs are as follows; Type one is typically found on commercial
vessels, they are big and bulky and provide a great amount of flotation.
Type two is the most common type and they look like a collar around
your neck. Type two PFDs will roll an unconscious wearer face up in
the water. They are the least expensive and the most uncomfortable
to wear, and possibly the safest with the face up concept. Type three
is a vest type PFD they are comfortable to wear and very expensive.
They will not roll an unconscious wearer face up but they do provide
warmth to the wearer. Type five is a hybrid PFD and they come in many
forms, from jackets with PFDs built in to vests that auto inflate
when they are submerged in water. Many type five PFDs are not Coast
Guard certified and would not be counted as allowable if you were
stopped and checked for equipment.
extinguisher; every vessel with an enclosed motor or fuel tank
must carry one hand held fire extinguisher that is Coast Guard approved.
The minimum type must be capable of combating type A, B and C fires.
Personal water craft are also required to carry an extinguisher. Larger
vessels have more strict requirements such as on board fire suppression
systems and these requirements can be seen in section 40 of the Navigation
3. Lights; every vessel that is mechanically propelled
must have one white light astern visible for 360 degrees and a green
and red light on the bow or forward portion. The bow lights must be
placed on the vessel in such a way so that an approaching vessel will
see your red on the right as you head towards each other. Often times
when a boater replaces the bulb in the bow light they get the colors
reversed. Lights must be displayed from sunset to sunrise, sunset is
not when it gets dark it is when the sun officially sets and there is
usually another half hour of sunlight after sunset. They must also be
displayed during operation in bad weather conditions. Lights are not
used on Personal Water Crafts as they can not be operated after
sunset. There are kits available to put lights on these vessels
and they can so be used, however they are only for bad weather conditions
and not night operation.
There are many other light combinations for larger vessels and to describe
them would be of no use since they are not typically going to be seen
on our small lakes, Lake Erie will typically display these lights on
freighters and large vessels.
Row boats and canoes or any non mechanically propelled vessel used after
dark may do so without the need for bow lights. In these instances they
must have readily available a lantern or white light to be displayed
when another vessel approaches. Typically a lantern is used by night
fishermen. They can be very difficult to see and are usually in close
to shore, but don’t ever let that give you a false sense of confidence
that there isn’t a boat out there directly in your path. When operating
at night slow down and be ever on guard for the unknown.
Producing devices; Every mechanically propelled vessel must
have a sound producing device or whistle capable of producing a two
second blast that can be heard for a distance of 1/2 mile under calm
conditions. Every PWC must also carry a whistle and
the whistle must be affixed to the operator in such a way that if the
operator and craft become separated he will still have the ability to
attract attention to himself in an emergency. PWC operators must also
have the dead man lanyard attached to their person so the motor will
stop if they fall off the craft.
every vessel that is mechanically propelled must carry an anchor capable
of holding the vessel in position and said anchor shall have sufficient
line attached. The length of the line is recommended to be 5
to 7 times the depth of the water. The reason for this is so
the anchor will bite into the bottom and hold the vessel in position.
A short anchor line will allow the anchor to bounce off the bottom and
will not hold fast the vessel. PWC’s are not required to carry an anchor.
Flag and flare kit; every vessel 16 feet or longer must carry
a distress kit with three hand held flares for night distress and one
2 foot by 2 foot orange flag for daytime distress. The flares have expiration
dates on the side label and they must not be out of date. Personal water
craft must carry a flag but not the flares.
Step 2: Ages of Operation / Safety Course
Step 3: Registration requirements;
boats, paddleboats, sail boats, and canoes
-with no motor have no age requirements, but do require life jackets
for everyone on board. .
Boats -the operator must be at least 10 years of age and
have completed a boater safety course. Certificate holders MUST carry
their cards with them while operating a vessel. Anyone over 18 years
of age can operate a power boat with no formal boating education,
however we strongly recommend taking a boater safety course.
Water Craft, Jet Skis, -require ALL operators to have taken
and successfully completed a formal boater safety course before they
operate a PWC. All operators MUST carry their cards with them while
operating a jet ski..
Age for operation Effective 2009 boating season the minimum
age of operation for a jet ski is 14 yrs old and you MUST be in possession
of a valid boater safety certificate. All operators of a jet ski MUST
have completed and carry their safety certificate with them.
We want you to have fun! Avoid unnecessary delays
and / or fines by having your certificates, identification and registration
with you on your jet ski! It will save us all time and hassle if you
comply with these rules. We recommend you keep your paperwork and
wallet etc in a water tight container to keep it dry.
There are no longer any provisions for operation under the age of
14, but we still recommend parents accompany their children on jet
skis but it is not mandatory.
Safety Courses are offered by many local police departments
and Sheriff’s Offices and by the United States Coast Guard and the
US Power Boat Squadron, as well as many marinas. On line courses from
Boat US or any other non state or federal agency are not accepted.
We will honor any other states boater safety course provided the operator
carries proof that they have taken such course. Pennsylvania is the
only state known that has a complete on-line boater safety course;
however you must be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania to take
propelled vessel must be registered in their home state or in the State
of New York if they are used more that 90 days consecutive on waterways
in this state.
Registrations are good for three years and the fees are based on the
size of the vessel. Registration numbers must be three inch block letters
of a contrasting color to the hull. They must be permanently affixed
to the hull on the forward portion of the vessel and the validation
sticker bust be placed directly aft the numbers. A typical registration
will appear with two letters designating the state of registration followed
by four numbers and then two more letters. You are required to carry
your registration, and have your numbers and validation sticker displayed
at all times.
4: Operating your vessel safely;
of the Road
of way is established in part on the maneuverability of the
vessel. Any vessel that is less maneuverable shall have the right
of way over a more maneuverable vessel. Example of this is a sail
boat and a power boat approaching at right angles or obliquely, in
which case the sail boat has the right of way. Any power vessel approaching
another power vessel at right angles or obliquely shall yield to the
vessel on the right. Just the same as two cars at a 4 way stop, the
one on the right has the right of way when both stop at the same time.
Two vessels approaching each other in opposite directions shall pass
each other port side to port side just like two cars on a highway.
Any vessel overtaking another vessel shall do so by passing said vessel
on the left, again like in the world of automobiles.
vessel that crosses astern of a vessel engaged in fishing or trolling
shall not come any closer than 200 feet to the stern of said trolling
-In Chautauqua County there is a 200 foot rule, basically
it is 100 feet farther than the state 100 foot rule. Essentially is
says that no vessel shall travel at a speed greater that 5 miles per
hour, nor shall they make a wake whenever they are within 200 feet
of shore, an anchored or moored vessel, a dock or a fixed object like
a buoy or bridge piling, a red and white divers flag or a vessel engaged
in trolling. Any vessel within the area known as the narrows in Bemus
Point from the ferry crossing to the bridge must also abide by the
5 mile per hour no wake rule. The same rule applies to the outlet
from Celoron to the City of Jamestown, and the Cattaraugus Creek in
the Town of Hanover.
Water Craft are not allowed to be operated within 500 feet
of a designated beach or bathing area unless they are traveling at
a speed of 10 miles per hour or less, however they must travel at
5mph or less when within 200ft rule as stated above.
time speed; No vessel shall travel at a speed faster than
20 miles per hour from sunset to sunrise on the inland waters of Chautauqua
County. No PWC’s after sunset.
- Findley Lake also has a local law that requires
boaters to travel in a counter clockwise direction when traveling
- Reckless operation; every vessel shall be operated
in a careful and prudent manner so as to not unreasonably interfere
with the free and proper use of the navigable waterways of this state.
Reckless operation is a misdemeanor.
- Spot lights; It is unlawful to shine a spot light
into the direction of another vessel as doing so could cause temporary
loss of night vision and lead to an accident. This is a misdemeanor
under the state laws.
- Accident reporting; every vessel involved in an
accident where property damage is in excess of $1000 shall report
the same to the Sheriff, or closest Law Enforcement agency. Every
vessel accident below the threshold of $1000 must have the operator
stop and give his information to the operator of the other vessel
or to the property owner that sustained damage. Failure to report
an accident is a crime.
- Failure to comply; All vessels must comply with
the requests of police officers, law enforcement and/ or emergency
- Failure to answer summons; If you are issued a
summons for a navigation violation the same rules apply as for any
arrest. You are required by law to answer the charges in a court of
law and failure to do so can result in suspension of your boating
privileges, an arrest warrant, or both.
- Underage operation after consuming alcohol; No
person under the age of 21 shall operate a vessel just like with an
automobile, after consuming alcohol. For the purpose of this section
a blood alcohol level of .02 to .07 shall be the guide lines for charging
a person. Any blood alcohol level above .07 will constitute a Boating
- BWI; boating while intoxicated is just as serious
on the water as in an automobile. The BAC levels are at .08 and the
fines carried are similar. Refusal to submit to a breath test will
result in the suspension of your privilege to operate a vessel in
© 2010 Chautauqua County Office Of The Sheriff. All Rights Reserved.