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Colorado River Station Offers Tips for Safe and Responsible Boating

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With the warmer weather upon us, many First District residents are heading to the Colorado River or Lake Havasu to enjoy boating, wakeboarding and other water sports. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Colorado River Station Marine Enforcement Unit reminds residents to boat safely and responsibly on our waterways.

According to Sergeant Travis Vessells, law enforcement agencies from Arizona and California have joint jurisdiction on the waterway. “There is no Arizona or California side of the waterway when it comes to enforcement,” explains Vessells.

If California is your primary place of residence, and you are between the ages of 16-45, you must have a California Boater Card. This age increases to 50 in 2023, 60 in 2024, and all ages by 2025. The card shows that its holder has successfully taken an approved boating safety course and passed the corresponding exam. Once issued, the card remains valid for a boat operator’s lifetime.

Please note that if your boat is registered in a different state and your primary residence is California, you still need a California Boater Card since vacation homes are not considered a primary place of residency.

The Colorado River Station routinely monitors the Colorado River and Lake Havasu for individuals operating watercraft under the influence or in a reckless manner. Deputies also ensure that children under the age of 13 are wearing personal floatation devices.

Some additional laws to remember:

  • All persons on a boat while underway (not moored or at anchor) must be within the confinements of the vessel, so the risk of falling overboard or being struck by a propeller is significantly reduced.
  • All watercraft approaching a law enforcement vessel with activated blue lights must come off plane and pass at a no-wake speed, so as not to endanger the deputies during the stop and to reduce the chance of damaging boats.
  • All vessels are required to have a Type IV throwable flotation device immediately available, a serviceable fire extinguisher, life jackets for every person on board, and a sounding device.

For more information regarding safe boating practices, visit the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways website at