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MARINE DIVISION

Marine Division Vessel - On Station in Frankfort

The Benzie County Sheriff's Office operates a Marine Patrol which is funded through a state grant and local funds.  Benzie County Marine Division patrols 25 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline as well as over fifty inland lakes.

 

The Sheriff's Marine Division is mandated by state and federal legislation to provide search and recovery of drowning vicitims from any body of water in Benzie County.  The Marine Division enforces and investigates all violations of marine and criminal state laws that occur on lakes located in Benzie County.  The Benzie County Sheriff Marine Division handles a variety of incidents including contacts made by stopping boaters, assisting disabled boaters, medical emergencies, search and rescue operations and investigating criminal activity occurring on the waters of Benzie County.

 

During any watercraft inspections, Deputies will establish the following:

  • Is the vessel legally registered?
  • Does the vessel have the proper display of it's registration?
  • Is there proper equipment of the number of people on board, including life jackets (PDF's) in the proper sizes.
  • Is there a fire extinguisher available, if required?
  • Are the registration and boater's safety certificates valid?
  • Is the operator under the influence of alcohol or drugs?

State law requires that the Sheriff's Office provide a comprehensive boating safety program that also includes instruction to youthful boaters.  The Benzie County Sheriff's Office Marine Division provides a Michigan Boating Basic course several times during the marine season.  It is our belief that these classes have saved lives and prevented injuries to those using the waters of Benzie County.  Statistics show that 75% of all boating accidents are the result of operator error or that the operator failed to follow the the rules or their responsibilities as a boat operator.  By making people aware of the rules and laws of the water, equipment required on vessels, and basic rescue techniques, some of the tragic incidents of the past can be prevented.

 

 

REQUIRED SAFETY EQUIPMENT

 

Life Preservers (Personal Floatation Devices)

All boats, 16 feet or larger, must have a "wearable" Type I, Type II, or Type III (designed to be worn) for each person on board.  The vessel must also be equipped with a Type IV "throwable" PFD (a device to be thrown to a person overboard).  U.S.C.G. approved Type IV PFD's are of the "ring" or "seat cushion" varieties.

By law, PFD's must be "readily accessible" and "immediately available".  They may not be stored in plastic bags or zippered pouches.  It is a good idea to hand a PFD to each person as they board your vessel.

PFD's must be "serviceable".  Ensure that all straps, labels, seams, and floatation pieces are in good working order.  Look at the label and make sure that the PFD is sized for the intended wearer.  Remember one "throwable" floatation device must also be on board in addition to a PFD for each person on board.

 

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

A vessel of any length that is constructed in such a way as to trap vapors, it must be equipped with a U.S.C.G. approved fire extinguisher.  Boats less than 26 feet in length require one B1 Fire Extinguisher.  Boats longer than 26 feet require more than on B1 or B2 type Fire Extinguisher.  More extra safety, get one lager than the minimum required.  Make sure that your extinguishers are "serviceable" and "accessible".

 

DISPLAYING OF REGISTRATION

Boats are numbered according to state and federal regulations. These regulations help protect people from careless boat operators and improperly equipped boats.   A Certificate of Number is issued to tell enforcement officers that a boat is properly registered.  The numbers must be displayed properly on the boat.

The law requires:

  • The figures are to be read from left to right.
  • They must be displayed on the forward half of each side of the bow of the boat.
  • Numbers must be bold, block letters of good proportion.
  • Numbers must not be less than three inches high.
  • They must be of contrasting color to the boat hull or background.
  • They must be as high above the waterline as practical.
  • No number other than the number assigned can be displayed on the forward half of the vessel.
  • Letters must be separated from numbers by spaces or hyphens.
  • Validation decals must be three inches to the right of the last letter displayed.
  • Boat Certificate of Registration must be carried on vessel when being operated.

 

LIGHTS AND HORNS

  • Lights are required on motorboats between sunset and sunrise and during periods of low visibility.
  • Anchored motorboats need only display a white aft light. Anchored rowboats need only display a white lantern to prevent a collision.
  • Horns or approved whistles are required on vessels 16 feet or longer

OPERATING YOUR VESSEL SAFELY

  • Skiing – Towing anyone on skis or sleds, or any similar contrivance, is fun and requires a team effort. An observer must be on board the tow vessel. The term observer is somewhat misleading. The observer’s real duty is to render aid in case of an emergency.
  • Capacity Plates are located in the vessel for your safety. Remember, each passenger weighs 150 pounds according to law. You may not exceed either number. Failure to do so might be viewed as "careless operation".
  • Slow No Wake Speed is a speed of a vessel which makes a wake or wash that is minimal. Go no faster than this when within 100 feet of any dock, raft, anchored vessel, any bathing beaches or any buoys. Some local laws require this speed in congested areas.
  • High Speed Boating is a speed where the boat reaches a "planing" condition. Make sure you are in open water to avoid collision. For the fast boats, inland lakes have a 55 MPH speed limit. Violation of this law is reckless operation of a vessel. We have radar!

 

Personal Watercraft/Jet Skis are relatively new in the waters and are a lot of fun. Some new laws have been recently enacted to make these boats a more safe experience.

  • PFD’s must be worn.
  • The kill switch must be connected to the operator
  • Do not cross closer than 150 feet behind another boat when jumping its wake.
  • An operator must be 14 or older. Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1978, must possess a Boating Safety Certificate in order to operate a PWC Jet Ski.
  • A PWC Jet Ski cannot be operated between one hour before sunset and 8:00 A.M.
  • As with all watercraft, PWC’s Jet Skis must abide by all "No Wake" restrictions. This includes our harbors and entrances to same. This will be strictly enforced.

Believe it or not, according to the law…

  • PFD's cannot be stored in plastic bags.
  • Vessels must go "counterclockwise" around the lake.
  • All boats must stay 200 feet from a diving flag (a red flag with a diagonal white stripe).
  • The operator of a vessel must have the registration on board.
  • "Rubber rafts" must have PFD's on board.
  • Intoxicated vessel operators go to jail in Benzie County.
  • You are liable for damage caused by your wake.
  • It is illegal to swim within 100 feet beyond the swim buoys lining a public bathing beach.
  • It is illegal to ride on the side (gunwale) or covered bow of a boat (unless the manufacturer designed the boat for that use.)
  • Children 12 to 16 years old must have a boating safety certificate to operate a motorboat of 6 HP or more.

Do you know…

  • Some insurance companies give lower rates to skippers who complete safety courses.
  • "Non-use" of PFD's is found in over 80% of drowning's.
  • Wearing PFD's increases your survival changes in a water accident.
  • If a boating accident happens, and if a person is injured, or more than $100.00 in damages is suspected, the appropriate water accident report or a boating accident report must be completed within 48 hours.

 

 

SPECIAL LOCAL WATERCRAFT CONTROLS - BENZIE COUNTY

ANN LAKE - R281.710.1 - Hours for high-speed boating and water skiing.

1. On the waters of Ann lake, Benzie county, state of Michigan, no operator of any motorboat, shall have in tow, or otherwise assist in the propulsion of, a person on water skis, water sled, surfboard, or other similar contrivance during the period from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. of the following day.

History: Eff. August 14, 1965

ANN LAKE - WC-10-99-002 - Hours for high-speed boating and water skiing.

On the waters of Ann Lake, all within sections 22, 23 and 26, town 27 north, range 13 west, Almira township, Benzie county, state of Michigan, no operator of any motorboat shall during the period from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. of the following day; (the hours shall be 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. the following day when and where daylight savings time is in effect) (R281.700.3):

(a) Operate such motorboat at high speed, high speed is defined as a speed at or above which a motorboat reaches a planing condition.

(b) Have in tow or shall otherwise assist in the propulsion of a person on water skis, water sled, surfboard or other similar contrivance.

History: Eff. December 23, 1999

BELLOWS LAKE - R281.710.7 - Slow--no wake speed.

7. On the waters of Bellows lake, section 25, T27N, R13W, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful for the operator of a vessel to exceed a slow--no wake speed. (See R281.728.9 covering that portion of Bellew lake which lies in Grand Traverse county.)

History: Eff. March 25, 1980

BETSIE LAKE - R281.710.8 - Slow--no wake speed.

8. On the waters of Betsie lake, sections 27 and 28, T25N, R15W, village of Elberta and city of Frankfort, Benzie county, it is unlawful for the operator of a vessel to exceed a slow--no wake speed.

History: Eff. February 16, 1980

BRONSON LAKE - R281.710.6 - Slow--no wake speed.

6. On the waters of Bronson lake, sections 33 and 34, T27N, R13W, Almira township, and sections 3 and 4, T26N, R13W, Inland township, Benzie county, it is unlawful for the operator of a vessel to exceed a slow--no wake speed.

History: Eff. October 4, 1978

HERENDEENE LAKE - R281.710.5 - High-speed boating and water skiing prohibited.

5. On the waters of Herendeene lake, section 15, town 27 north, range 13 west, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful to:

(a) Operate a vessel at high speed.

(b) Have in tow, or otherwise assist in the propulsion of, a person on water skis, water sled, surfboard, or other similar contrivance.

History: Eff. May 31, 1973

LAKE VIEW WEST BASIN - R281.710.3 - Slow--no wake speed.

3. On the waters of the west basin of lake View, sections 15 and 22, town 27 north, range 13 west, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful for the operator of a vessel to exceed a slow--no wake speed.

History: Eff. May 31, 1973

LAKE VIEW EAST BASIN - R281.710.4 - High-speed boating and water skiing prohibited.

4. On the waters of the east basin of lake View, sections 15 and 22, town 27 north, range 13 west, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful to:

(a) Operate a vessel at high speed.

(b) Have in tow, or otherwise assist in the propulsion of, a person on water skis, water sled, surfboard, or other similar contrivance.

History: Eff. May 31, 1973

MUD LAKE - WC-10-92-004 - Slow--no wake speed.

On the waters of Mud lake, all within section 35, T27N, R13W, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful for the operator of a vessel to exceed a slow--no wake speed.

Mud lake as being connected to Sanford lake in the NW 1/4 of section 35.

History: Eff. August 25, 1992

PEARL LAKE - WC-10-92-001 - Hours for high-speed boating.

On the waters of Pearl lake, all within section 5, 6, 7 and 8, T27N, R13W, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. of the following day to:

(a) Operate a vessel at high speed.

(b) Have in tow, or otherwise assist in the propulsion of, a person on water skis, a water sled, kite, surfboard, or other similar contrivance.

The hours should be 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. of the following day when Eastern Daylight Savings Time is in effect. "High-speed boating" is defined by the Marine Safety Act to mean a speed at or above which a motorboat reaches a planing condition.

History: Eff. August 25, 1992

 

PEARL LAKE - WC-10-99-001 - Hours for high-speed boating.

On the waters of Pearl lake, all within sections 5, 6, 7 and 8, T27N, R13W, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. of the following day to:

Operate a vessel at high speed.

Have in tow, or otherwise assist in the propulsion of, a person on water skis, a water sled, kite, surfboard, or other similar contrivance.

The hours should be 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. of the following day when Eastern Daylight Savings Time is in effect. "High-speed boating" is defined by the Marine Safety Act to mean a speed at or above which a motorboat reaches a planing condition.

On the following portions of Pearl Lake, Almira Township, Benzie County, it shall be unlawful for the operator of a vessel to exceed a slow-no wake speed.

(a) Within the buoyed area beginning in the E ½ SE SW ¼ Sec. 5, T27N R13W, ending in the W ½ SW ¼ SW ¼ Sec. 5, this area to be defined by 4 buoys placed at the following coordinates:

(1) N44º 45.750 W 085º 54.500

(2) N44º 45.750 W 085º 54.489

(3) N44º 45.730 W 085º 54.743

(4) N44º 45.703 W 085º 54.773

b. Within the buoyed area in the W ½ SW ¼ SE ¼ Sec.6, T27N R13W, between the shoreline and small island, this area to defined by two buoys placed at the following coordinates:

(5) N44º 45.848 W 085º 55.272

(6) N44º 45.760 W 085º 55.360

(c). Within the entire area of the small bay in the W ½ SW ¼ NW ¼, Sec. 6, T27N R13W, the entrance to this bay to be marked with one buoy placed at the following coordinates:

(7) N44º 45.939 W 085º 55.526

The boundaries of the area described immediately above shall be marked with signs and with buoys. All buoys must be placed as provided in a permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources and be in conformance with the State Uniform Waterway Marking System.

History: Eff. July 21, 1999

PLATTE RIVER - R281.710.2 - Slow--no--wake speed.

2. On the waters of the Platte river from Lake Michigan to Loon lake and from Loon lake to the last channel marker where the Platte river enters Platte lake, Benzie county, state of Michigan, no operator of any motorboat shall exceed a slow--no wake speed.

History: Eff. August 14, 1965

SANFORD LAKE - WC-10-92-003 - Slow--no wake speed.

On the waters of Sanford lake, all within sections 34 and 35, T27N, R13W, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful for the operator of a vessel to exceed a slow--no wake speed.

History: Eff. August 25, 1992

SHORTER LAKE - WC-10-92-002 - High-speed boating prohibited.

On the waters of Shorter lake, all within sections 1, T27N, R13W, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful to:

(a) Operate a vessel at high speed.

(b) Have in tow, or otherwise assist in the propulsion of, a person on water skis, a water sled, kite, surfboard, or other similar contrivance.

"High-speed boating" is defined by the Marine Safety Act to mean a speed at or above which a motorboat reaches a planing condition.

History: Eff. August 25, 1992

STEVENS LAKE - WC-10-93-001 - Slow--no wake speed.

On the waters of Stevens lake, all within sections 3 and 10, T27N, R13W, Almira township, Benzie county, it is unlawful for the operator of a vessel to exceed a slow--no wake speed.

History: Eff. August 8, 1994




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