Following safe boating rules and having the right gear
will help you return to the dock safely.
Thousands of people launch boats in St. Charles Parish every year.
Although the Sheriff’s Office is ready to assist anyone who gets into trouble, each boater has the responsibility of taking precautions against a mishap or mechanical trouble.
Lt. Sandy Dares, commander of the Sheriff’s Office’s Marine Division, says good boat-handling skills, well-maintained equipment and taking safety precautions go a long way towards ensuring that your trip ends safely.
“The most important thing a boater can do is to make sure they have a life vest for each person on board, as well as a horn, a whistle, or other sound-producing device to alert other vessels of a possible collision,” Dares said.
Leave a float plan with a trusted person, so they will know where you are putting in, where you are going, and when you expect to be back. Giving someone this information can save your life.
A Coast Guard float plan form that can be filled out on a computer or by hand is on our web site. Just type “Float Plan” into the search box of the Sheriff’s Office web site. The form is in PDF format.
To reduce the chance that you will need help, make sure that your equipment is in good shape before leaving the dock. Just in case, carry a flare gun, a noise-making device, such as a horn or whistle, and a marine radio. Cell phones don’t always work on the water.
And we are reminding boater operators that anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984, must complete a state-required safety course before taking a vessel out on the water. You will learn about safety, how to navigate in crowded waters and lots of other useful information.
The course can be is offered by trained instructors or online. It includes information that even veteran boaters will find helpful.
We’ll say it one more time: Please wear a life vest while on the water. All the time. And make sure that everyone on your boat wears one too. It can literally save your life.