With temperatures on the rise, people from all over the tri-state area are getting outside and enjoying all the wonderful outdoor activities Houston County has to offer. Ranging from hiking through our bluffs, camping with family, backyard grilling with friends, or trout fishing in one of our local creeks, Houston County really does have a lot of family fun activities to offer. At the Sheriff’s Office we are preparing for another year of water patrol and rescue on the Mississippi River. As your sheriff, it is my goal to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable summer on the river. In an effort to do so, deputies and posse members will again be patrolling the river.
Alcohol consumption and reckless watercraft operation are two of the biggest contributors to watercraft accidents and injuries. People sometimes forget that the operation of a watercraft while under the influence can also result in criminal penalties. These penalties range from the loss of your boating privileges, loss of your motor vehicle driver’s license, and fines, depending on the level of crime.
It is also important to remember to wear your lifejackets. Any person aboard a watercraft, who is over 10 years old, must have a lifejacket readily available on board if it is not being worn. Minnesota law requires a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket to be worn by children less than 10 years old when aboard any watercraft while underway. Any person being towed on water skis or other device must wear an approved life jacket. It is also required that any motorboat over 16 foot in length be equipped with a Type IV throwable buoyant cushion or ring buoy. The Type IV throwable device does not substitute for a lifejacket.
Navigation lights are also very important. Please check them prior to your departure to ensure they work properly. Navigation lights are required to be illuminated from sunset to sunrise. Whether you are taking an evening cruise up the channel or trying to catch that trophy fish, being visible to other boaters is key to avoiding collisions and accidents. Barge traffic is also very busy on the Mississippi River so please be aware of your surroundings!
Also, all watercraft carrying or using fuel or other flammable fluids in an enclosure are required to have an approved fire extinguisher on board.
This is just a small list of some safety pointers and requirements of watercraft operation in Minnesota. For a complete list of the watercraft laws, you can obtain the MN Boating Guide at the license centers in Caledonia and La Crescent or on the MN DNR website. Also, don’t hesitate to call our office.
Please be safe and most importantly have fun out there on our beautiful Mississippi River. If you see one of our staff out patrolling the river, please don’t hesitate saying hello.
Be Alert – Stay Safe,
Your Sheriff, Mark A. Inglett
Preserving the Peace
and Public Trust