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Anglers catch fish, forget life vests
Opening day of this year’s lowland lakes fishing season was April 28 and while big trout boosted creel reports in Kitsap County, law enforcement reports that boating safety among anglers didn’t keep pace.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Marine Services Unit in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, conducted 23 boating safety inspections. Of that number, almost 100 percent were complying with fishing regulations; however 12 of the vessels contacted had inadequate or no personal flotation devices on board as required by state law. Of those 12, eight were issued notices of infraction for not having required PFD’s.
Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Deputy and Spokesman Scott Wilson said that marine unit deputies noticed one recurring theme amongst boaters: a general lack of concern for the requirement to have a PFD on small lakes, with boaters believing that they could easily swim ashore if they fell into the water or their boat swamped or overturned. Deputy Wilson said that can be a deadly assumption.
Nine out of ten drownings occur in inland waters and involve boats less than 20 feet in length, according to information provided by Wilson. Most drowning victims had access to a personal flotation device but chose not to wear it. PFD’s today are manufactured in a wide variety of designs that boaters can find a comfortable and easy-to-use for any type of activity.
Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chad Miller, who sometimes works marine patrol, regularly runs a boater safety course that fills up quickly. Those that operate a power boat of greater than 15 horsepower on any waterway, lake or river in Washington State, and are age 40 or younger, are required to have a Boater Education Card as of Jan. 1, 2012.
Deputy Miller’s class is open to all persons age 12 and older and will next run from 5 to 9 p.m. June 13 and 15 at long lake community center in Port Orchard. To RSVP, contact Deputy Miller at 360-710-9216 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deputy Miller said that about 70 percent of the boaters he encounters in Kitsap County have the proper equipment and are well prepared for an emergency. That level of awareness pays dividends.
“We’ve actually been really fortunate here in Kitsap County with boating fatalities and accidents and haven’t had any boat fatalities since a couple was killed in Brownsville a few years ago,” said Deputy Chad Miller.
There was a recent drowning death in Island Lake, though, Deputy Miller noted. In that July 18, 2011 incident, Silverdale resident Kristopher S. Foisy, 20, went missing at around 10 p.m. while swimming with two friends.