Skagit County Sheriff

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Skagit County Sheriff

"Committed To Your Safety"

Skagit County Sheriff's Office
Boat Patrol

Mission Statement

To provide for safe and enjoyable waterways within Skagit County, through continuing education, vessel safety inspections and enforcement action as may be required.



The Skagit County Sheriff's office boat patrol unit consists of five, fulltime, commissioned sheriff's deputies and one patrol sergeant. This unit is responsible for all sheriff's office responsibilities on the waters of Skagit County. The deputies are assigned on a part time basis to the boat patrol unit and are available to respond as the situation requires. In addition, these same deputies are regularly scheduled for weekend boat patrol in the summer months between the Memorial and Labor Day holidays.

All of the deputies assigned to the boating unit have been certified by the State of Washington parks department after passing a basic, one week boating academy. In addition many of the assigned deputies have received additional training in, boat accident investigation, search and rescue operations, intoxicated boater enforcement and waterborne tactical operations.

The Skagit County Sheriff's office boating unit has been accredited by the State of Washington since 1988. It is largely funded by monies collected by the State of Washington from boat registration taxes with the money then disbursed to all accredited boat patrol programs throughout the State.



Patrol Boats

1) 1997 21' Safe Boat rigid aluminum hull with a foam collar powered by a 200 XL Mercury outboard motor

2) 1991 18' Koffler river boat aluminum hull, flat bottom design powered by a 105 hp Johnson outboard motor with jet pump

3) 1994 Arctic Cat personal watercraft


Rules and Regulations

  • All boats must meet the requirements of applicable State and Federal law and U.S. Coast Guard (U.S.C.G.) regulations.
  • Motor Boats and Personal Watercraft (Less than 26' in length):

    Registration for vessels 16' and over, must be carried on board. Registration numbers must be permanently attached to each side of the hull in 3" contrasting letters/numbers. Vessels under 16' with 10hp or less not used on waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction are exempt.


Safety Equipment Requirements

1) Personal Floatation Devices (PFD's) for each person on board must be carried. All PFD's must be the appropriate size for the intended occupant. Vessels 16' or longer must carry a throwable floatation device on board.

2) Sound Signals- one whistle, horn or device capable of producing whistle blasts

3) Fire Extinguisher- Required, if fuel tanks are permanently installed or in closed compartments.

4) Visual Distress Signals- Coastal Waters Only. Vessels less than 16' in length must carry night signals if operating in hours of darkness. Vessels over 16' must carry day and night signals at all times.

5) Navigation Lights- Required for night operation and must conform to U.S.C.G. regulation. 6) Ventilation- Closed fuel compartments must be adequately ventilated.

7) Backfire Flame Arrestor- Gasoline engines, other than outboards must have a backfire flame arrestor on the carburetor.


Water-skiing Regulations

1) Water-skiing is allowed only on Big Lake, Clear Lake, Lake Campbell and Lake Cavanaugh.

2) All water-skiing shall be in a counter-clockwise direction and at least 150' away from shore, docks, etc.

3) When moving from shore, dock or float, the skier will travel at an angle between 45-60 degrees from the shoreline on the right hand side of the skier.

4) Recreational vessels towing a person(s) on waterskis or similar devices shall be occupied by an operator and observer. The observer must be at least ten (10) years of age.

5) The observer must continuously observe the person(s) being towed and shall display a "skier down flag" whenever the person(s) are in the water. A "skier down flag" should be a bright red flag and visible from all directions.

6) All water-skiers must wear a U.S.C.G. approved PFD.

7) Water-skiing is prohibited ½ hour after sunset until ½ hour after sunrise.

8) No person engaged in water-skiing shall conduct themselves in a negligent manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property.


Vessel Operation Requirements

1) The speed limit is 40 mph on Big Lake, Campbell Lake and Lake Cavanaugh. There is a 25 mph limit on Clear Lake with no personal watercraft (pwc) allowed. There is a 5 mph speed limit on Lake McMurray and Lake Sixteen. Swinomish Slough is a "no wake zone."

2) No vessel shall be operated closer than 150' to any shoreline, dock, float or other vessel, except at idle or "no wake" speed.

3) No vessel shall be operated in a negligent or reckless manner that would endanger persons or property. Riding on bow, gunwales, or cabin top is prohibited.

4) Operation of a vessel under the influence of intoxicating liquor and/or drugs is illegal.

5) The minimum age to operate a motorboat powered by a motor of 10hp or more is fourteen (14) years of age, unless accompanied by a person legally capable of operating such a vessel. No minor of ten (10) years of age or younger shall operate any vessel.

6) No vessel shall be equipped with any motor beyond its safe power capacity. The vessels exhaust shall be equipped with a muffler in proper working condition.

7) Swimming activities beyond 150' of the shoreline shall be accompanied by an attendant in a boat.

8) Scuba divers must mark their area of activity with a red/white dive flag. Vessels must keep at least 150' from a displayed diver's flag.

9) The operator of every vessel involved in an accident is required by law to file a report in writing whenever a boating accident results in loss of life, injury which requires medical treatment beyond first aid, property damage over $500 or the disappearance of a person.

10) It is illegal to throw litter overboard in any waterway. Recreational vessels must carry a litterbag.


For a complete text of the Boating Regulations, contact the:
Skagit County Sheriff's Boat Patrol
600 S. 3rd St., Room 100
Mount Vernon, Wa
Or call (360) 416-1911