USCG Alert: Sacramento River Safety Zones for 12/31 and 1/1


Anglers Advised to Wear Life Jackets During Off-Season Boating

Contact:  Gloria Sandoval (916) 651-5692

October 12, 2012


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - October through December are statistically the most dangerous months for anglers on California’s waterways. The California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) boating accident statistics show that close to 90 percent of all fishing-related boating fatalities in the off-season involve vessels capsizing or people falling overboard. To improve the chances of surviving such accidents, DBW urges anglers to follow safe boating practices, especially the use of life jackets.

“Many water enthusiasts believe that knowing how to swim is enough protection from drowning,” said DBW’s acting director Lucia Becerra. “Knowing how to swim is not enough. Injuries, cold water, cramps, poor health and heavy clothing are just some of the reasons why good swimmers not wearing life jackets have drowned.”

Below are some other safety tips that anglers should follow:

  • Check weather reports and wave conditions.
  • Use the appropriate size/type of boat for your boating activity.
  • File a float plan to alert family and friends of your whereabouts.
  • Do not boat alone.
  • Avoid wearing heavy clothing.
  • Use appropriate lighting when boating at night.
  • Pay attention to your vessel’s position in the surf line.

DBW invites anglers to become heroes by taking a life jacket oath. By taking the oath, anglers promise to keep themselves and their family and friends safe by making sure that everyone on their boat wears life jackets. Participants also have the chance to receive an inflatable life jacket. Visit BoatResponsibly.com for more details on this program.


Notice of Flashboards Installation/ Boat Lock Operation at Suisun Marsh Salinity Control Structure

Contact:  Dan Yamanaka, Department of Water Resources

(916) 574-0456

October 5, 2012


The California Department of Water Resources advises that it will be operating the boat locks at their Suisun Marsh Salinity Control Structure, located 2.2 nautical miles from the easterly end of Montezuma Slough at coordinates, 38°05’36”N 121°53’07”W, starting October 9, 2012 through May 31, 2013, contingent on hydrologic conditions.

As of October 9, 2012, the flashboards will be in place across the maintenance channel, thus vessels can only pass through the boat lock.  A boat lock operator will be on duty every day between the hours of 0700 hours and 1700 hours or until further notice.

The boat lock signal is a standard traffic light.  Whistle signals to request opening are two prolonged blasts followed by two short blasts.  Channel 13 VHF-FM will be monitored during hours of operation.  Full instructions on passage including an emergency phone number are posted on site.

The boat lock is located on the east side of the channel and provides the following clearances:  16 feet horizontally; 9 feet over the sill at MLLW; 70 feet in length between sector gates; and no vertical impairment.  The piers will be marked by fixed red lights, and other parts of the structure will be marked by fixed yellow lights.

Mariners should be aware a shoal area exists along the east bank on both sides of the structure extending approximately 50 feet out from the existing levee.  Marker buoys have been placed to identify the area.  Mariners are also advised that the Salinity Control Structure operations can at times create currents at the site greater than currents in other areas of Montezuma Slough.


DBW Issues Safety Reminder for Labor Day Weekend

Contact:  Greg Imura (916) 651-5691

August 29, 2012


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) asks boaters to exercise caution on the water during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

“California’s waterways are extremely crowded over Labor Day weekend”, said DBW’s acting Director Lucia Becerra. “Avoiding alcohol, wearing proper-fitting life jackets and checking your boat before and after you launch are the three most important things boaters can do to ensure a safe Labor Day Weekend.”

Avoid Alcohol
It is against the law to operate a boat, or be towed behind on water skis, wakeboards or similar devices, with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater. Designated drivers are not sufficient for vessels. Everyone who drinks alcohol on board is at risk. Intoxicated passengers on boats can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller, or cause loading problems by leaning over the side or standing up in small vessels, causing them to capsize.

Life Jackets
Knowing how to swim does not prevent drowning. Properly-fitted life jackets will help keep you afloat until help arrives. In 2011, over 93 percent of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

Check Your Boat
To combat the spread of invasive species, especially quagga and zebra mussels, into California’s waterways, DBW recommends boaters follow these tips at the beginning and end of all boating trips:

  • Inspect all exposed surfaces—small mussels feel like sandpaper to the touch.
  • Wash the hull of each watercraft thoroughly; preferably with high pressure/hot water.
  • Remove all plant and animal material.
  • Drain all water and dry all areas, including the lower outboard unit.
  • Clean and dry all live-wells, empty and dry all buckets and dispose of all bait in the trash.
  • Wait five days and keep watercraft dry between launches into different waterways.

For more boating safety tips, visit www.dbw.ca.gov/SafetyTips and remember, “If it’s your boat, it’s your responsibility


Avoid a Boating Accident this Fourth of July

Contact:  Gloria Sandoval (916) 651-5692

June 29, 2012

DBW Facebook Page   DBW Twitter Feed


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -The California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) reminds boaters to use caution on the water this Fourth of July. DBW’s boating accident data shows that more boating accidents occur during this holiday than any others during the summer boating season.

“The need for boaters to become familiar with the rules of the road is critical in ensuring a safe boating experience,” said DBW’s Acting Director Lucia Becerra. “Rules such as steering to the right when approaching another vessel head on, is important to know, especially in crowded waterways.”

The following tips can greatly decrease the chances of boaters being involved in boating accidents:

  • Avoid alcohol. Everyone who drinks alcohol on board is at risk. Passengers can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller, or cause the vessel to capsize.
  • Operate your boat at a reasonable speed. Boats do not have brakes. The stopping distance in emergencies can be critical.
  • Properly use water ski flags when skiers, wake boarders or tubers are down.  Improper use of flags can be dangerous not only to the person in the water, but to the passing boat where its propeller when become entangled in the tow rope can result in a deadly accident.

For more safety tips or to view California’s boating laws, please visit www.BoatResponsibly.com. Remember, “If it’s your boat, it’s your responsibility”.


Reporting a Boating Accident in California
State law requires boaters involved in accidents to file a written report with DBW when a person dies, disappears or requires medical attention beyond first aid. A report is also required when an accident results in damage to a vessel or other property exceeding $500 or there is a complete loss of a vessel. Boating Accident Report Form.

About DBW
DBW promotes on-the-water safety and helps develop convenient public access to the waterways through programs funded by vessel registration fees, boating fuel tax dollars and boating facility construction loan payments.


Boat Safely this Memorial Day Weekend
Wear a Life Jacket and Avoid Alcohol

Contact:  Gloria Sandoval (916) 651-5692

May 21, 2012


SACRAMENTO, Calif. The California Department of Boating and Waterway’s (DBW) urges boaters to be properly prepared for safe boating this Memorial Day weekend. California’s waterways will be crowded with motorized and non-motorized vessels. People will boat in groups creating numerous distractions, which can have deadly consequences.

“Boating during Memorial Day weekend means being a more responsible boat operator,” said DBW’s acting Director Lucia Becerra. “Operators may have people on board their vessels who do not normally boat. Familiarizing passengers with the location of safety equipment and how to be safe aboard will decrease the likelihood of being involved in a boating accident.”

Below are some ways in which boat operators can decrease the chances of being involved in a boating accident:

  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Avoid alcohol. Everyone who drinks alcohol on board is at risk. Passengers can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller, or cause vessels to capsize.
  • Designate a person aboard the vessel to help you act as a lookout.
  • Carry the required safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, sound signals, navigation lights, and life jackets for every person on board.
  • Inform everyone on board where the required safety equipment is located.
  • Turn off the engine when the boat is not moving to avoid propeller injuries.

Detailed information about this information and additional life saving tips can be found in boating safety courses or at www.BoatResponsibly.com.


Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW), and California State Parks Warn Outdoor Recreationists to Take Precautions this Season

Contact:  PG&E External Communications,
(415) 973-8709

Boating and Waterways,
(916) 651-5692

April 30, 2012


SACRAMENTO, Calif. Outdoor recreationists should take serious precautions against cold temperatures and swift currents when in or near waterthis spring. Despite this year’s below-normal snowfall, the spring snowmelt can still result in swift and cold river flows that can create treacherous conditions for all recreationists – waders, swimmers, paddlers, boaters, anglers, and even hikers cooling off at the water’s edge.

The utility and state departments cautioned that even though the water content of California’s mountain snowpack is near 40 percent of normal, there is still a significant amount of water in the snowpack and it is rapidly melting as mid-spring temperatures continue to warm. As warmer weather and longer days accelerate melting snow in mountainous regions, water temperatures will continue to drop and flows will continue to rise in waterways and reservoirs, with some reservoirs spilling and resulting in higher flows downstream.

Those planning outings near mountain streams, rivers and reservoirs need to be vigilant and take appropriate safety measures,” said Debbie Powell, director of PG&E’s hydro generation department. “Water flows will fluctuate with the warming and cooling of the day so always be prepared for a change in conditions.”

“Even experienced swimmers can get caught in swift river flows,” said DBW’s Acting Director Lucia C. Becerra. “Stay safe by checking local water conditions before taking a boating trip, wear a life jacket, and avoid alcohol.”

“Spring is a wonderful time to visit our beautiful lakes and fast-moving rivers,” said Ruth Coleman, director of California State Parks. “But please read the safety tips in this water safety warning because making a mistake could threaten the life of a loved one.” 

Water safety tips:

Know the Water

  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.
  • Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.

Know your limits

  • Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool – people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
  • Cold water causes impairment leading to fatalities. It reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for inexperienced paddlers are recommended.

Wear a life jacket

  • Conditions change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming. Wearing a life jacket can increase survival time.
  • A life jacket can provide some thermal protection against the onset of hypothermia and keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.

Parental Supervision

  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Appoint a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.

Know the Law

  • Every child under 13 must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on a moving vessel that is 26 feet or less in length. A Coast Guard-approved life jacket must be carried for each person on board a boat. This includes rigid or inflatable paddlecraft.
  • Every person on board a personal watercraft (popularly known as “jet skis”) and any person being towed behind a vessel must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • It is against the law to operate a boat or water ski with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. You can be arrested even when your BAC is less than 0.08 percent if conditions are deemed to be unsafe.

About DBW
DBW enhances public access to California’s waterways and promotes on-the-water safety to California’s more than four million motorized and non-motorized boaters through programs funded by vessel registration fees, boating fuel tax dollars and boating facility construction loan payments. For more information, visit www.dbw.ca.gov.

About PG&E
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/about/.

About California State Parks
California State Parks manages 278 parks units in a system that contains 1.5 million acres, 300 miles of the California coastline, 640 miles of lakefront and more than 300 miles of rivers. More than 65-million people visited State Parks in 2010. For more information, visit www.parks.ca.gov.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Story opportunities on water safety can be scheduled with DBW.


Notice of Flashboards Removal/ Boatlock Suspension at Suisun Marsh Salinity Control Gates

Contact:  Dan Yamanaka, Department of Water Resources

(916) 574-0456

April 27, 2012


The California Department of Water Resources advises that it will remove the flashboards and suspend Boat Locks operations at the Suisun Salinity Control Gates, located at 2.2 nautical miles from the Easterly end of Montezuma Slough at coordinates, 38•05’36N 121•53’07W, beginning no sooner than May 1, 2012.

Mariners are advised to use the Maintenance channel on the east side of the channel. The Boat Lock will be closed to boat traffic. Signs and lights will be posted to warn vessels to avoid the Boat Lock.

Previous notice.


USCG Safety Alert: Uninspected 6 or 12 pack Vessels


Suisun Marsh Salinity Control Gates
Revised Boat Lock Operations Schedule

Contact:  Dan Yamanaka, Department of Water Resources

(916) 574-0456

February 7, 2012


The California Department of Water Resources advises that the hours of operation of the boat locks at its Salinity Control Structure, located 2.2 nautical miles from the easterly end of Montezuma Slough at coordinates, 38•05’36”N121•53’07”W, are changing as of January 30, 2012.

The new hours of operation are 0700 hours to 1700 hours daily, unless otherwise informed. All other operations at the Salinity Control Structure remain the same as previously noticed.

Previous notice.