The Ocean Shores Police Marine Patrol Unit was instituted in 1989. Funded through the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s Safe Boating Program the Marine Patrol is responsible for the enforcement of boating regulations on Ocean Shores’ 26 miles of freshwater canals as well as Duck Lake and Lake Minard. This funding is generated through county vessel registration fees. A portion of these fees is returned to the county of origin and dispersed equitably among the agencies in the county that have State approved Safe Boating Programs.
The Ocean Shores Police Department is capable of responding 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to vessel accidents and complaints. The Marine Patrol units primary boat is a 20-foot Alamar rigid hull inflatable boat that was primarily funded through grant money provided by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. The Marine Unit also has access to four personal watercraft. Nine Department members are certified Safe Boating officers and have received specialized training in boat handling and laws related to the use of waterways.
Besides the enforcement aspect, the Marine Patrol Unit is tasked with public education on safe boating. Two officers are designated Education Officers and are responsible for providing boating safety education to the community. Every fourth grade elementary student receives instruction on safe boating practices. The Marine Patrol Unit also provides literature and presentations at public functions and is available to talk to special interest groups or organizations.
The Marine Patrol Unit also teaches the classes necessary for obtaining the State mandated Boating Education Card. Class announcements will be posted on the Department website when they become available.
Below are listed several of the more important regulations regarding safe boating. This is only a partial list and every boater is encouraged to read the Washington Boaters Guide of Rules, Regulations and Safety Afloat for more information. These guides are available from any boating officer and at the Police Department.
- All vessels must have valid registration, and registration decals and registration numbers must be properly displayed.
- Every vessel is required to have a Type I, II or III personal floatation device (PFD) for each person on board.
- Children under 12, while on vessels 19 feet or less, are required to wear a Coast Guard approved PFD at all times while on deck.
- Children under seven shall wear at least a Type III PFD of appropriate size anytime a vessel is underway
- Operator/Occupant(s) must wear at least a Type III PFD while in a canoe, kayak or similar type vessel that includes paddleboats, and life rafts.
- No one under 10 years old may operate any motorboat.
- No one under 16 years old may operate a motorboat with an engine larger than 10 horsepower unless under immediate adult supervision. ( This includes personal watercraft)
- Personal watercraft are prohibited from all freshwater areas within the City. (Law Enforcement is exempt from this restriction)
- The maximum speed limit on the lakes of Ocean Shores is 35 mph unless posted otherwise. All canals are 5-mph or wake speed.
- A vessel shall not exceed five miles per hour or wake speed when operating on Duck Lake north of the East Chance Ala Mer NE bridge
- The speed limit within 50 feet of any shoreline, buoy, dock or other vessels is 5 mph or wake speed.
- Boating While Intoxicated and negligent vessel operations are strictly forbidden.
- Any organized Marine Event (regattas, races, tournaments and exhibitions) require a Marine Event Permit issued by the City of Ocean Shores.
- All vessels must stop when signaled to do so by the Marine Patrol.
- Boating Safety Education Cards are required to be carried by all vessel operators for vessels with motors 15 hp or larger under the following timelines:
Persons born before January 1, 1955 are exempt from this requirement which will be phased in over several years requiring certain age groups to obtain cards by specific dates.
2008 12 years to 20 years old
2009 25 years and under
2010 30 years and under
2011 35 years and under
2012 40 years and under
2013 50 years and under
2014 60 years and under
After 2014 All boat operators except those exempted elsewhere in RCW 79A.60.640
Further information on boating safety can be found on the Washington State Parks and Recreation website at www.parks.wa.gov/boating and the Ocean Shores Municipal Code found through the City of Ocean Shores website at www.osgov.com