Jackson County Sheriff's marine deputies this weekend will give boaters a chance to have their powerboats and driftboats checked for the requisite safety gear on land rather than having their day on the water interrupted later.
The annual dry-dock inspections will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Jackson County Marine and Search and Rescue Headquarters, 620 Antelope Road, White City.
The inspections give fishing guides and other boaters a chance to get their crafts' safety features verified with the boat on the trailer instead of during an impromptu inspection by police on a river or lake this summer.
Sheriff's deputies historically conduct more than 4,000 boat inspections annually, and those whose boats pass this weekend will get a red sticker telling deputies the boat's already been checked this year.
Boats with the stickers generally are not stopped by marine deputies and inspected for safety gear while on area rivers and lakes, but it does not render them immune to future inspections.
Boaters whose crafts fail the dry-dock inspections are simply told what items they need — such as better life jackets or a new state registration.
Different safety requirements are necessary for different-sized boats and motors. The requirements are printed in Oregon State Marine Board pamphlets and listed on the Marine Board's website at www.boatoregon.com.
Boats are also checked to see whether they are carrying any invasive species, such as grasses, mosses or zebra mussels.
It is illegal in Oregon to launch a boat with any aquatic species on it. At the inspections, marine deputies are not only looking for these problems, they are also passing out literature about the inspection program and the dangers of invasives, says marine Deputy Jeff McGrath.
"We're trying to make them more aware," McGrath says. "You'll probably see more inspections for aquatic species."
So far, every boat that McGrath has inspected has met the invasive species requirements, he says.
Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary also will be present Saturday to conduct inspections on boats used in coastal waters, McGrath says.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.