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Don’t be a ramp hog, and other boating tips for the summer

It’s going to be another good weekend to get out and have fun. For a lot of us, that means getting out on the water.

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I understand that most boaters likely know all this stuff, but it’s never a bad thing to go over the basics, especially for those who are just getting into boating. Most of the same basic rules you follow on the road apply to driving a boat on the water. Don’t be reckless and watch your speed.

King County Sergeant Ryan Abbott said deputies will be watching you.

“They are looking to make sure people are wearing life jackets, of course, or that you have life jackets with you on the boat,” he said. “Also that you’re not speeding in a boat, which you can. There are no wake zones. They’re making sure that you’re watching how fast you’re going and watching where you’re going.”

Washington law requires that every one on-board has a life jacket, and any one 12 years old or younger needs to be wearing that life jacket.

Drunk driving also applies to boating.

“People have this misconception that I can drink and drive a boat, no big deal,” Sergeant Abbott said. “That’s why our deputies are out on the water. They are watching for that. Seattle Police also has its marine unit watching for the same thing.”

The rules also apply to marijuana use.

If you’ve been drinking or smoking on the water and then get behind the wheel to go home, State Trooper Heather Axman said that could cost you double.

“If you get a DUI pulling a trailer and your boat, it’s going to be impounded,” she said. That includes the car, the boat, and trailer.

Another key part of boating is making sure that trailer, the boat and everything in it is secured. State Trooper Johnna Batiste said flying debris is a problem this time of year.

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“This is the time of year when we see life jackets and coolers in the roadway,” she said. “If you have those items in a boat, they also need to be secured.”

Don’t forget that most recreational boaters are required by law to take a safety course and carry their Boating Education Card.

The biggest chokepoint you will likely find while boating is at the ramp, where you are jockeying for position to put-in or haul-out your boat. Be patient. The zipper merge doesn’t apply here.

Don’t get in the queue until you’re ready, so you don’t waste time. Don’t pull your boat to the dock until your trailer is in the queue. The line is formed by vehicles with trailers, not by vessels in the water.

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