POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - With the start of summer, Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies will be out in full force patrolling the waterways, but their focus this week is on warning boaters over issuing tickets.
Boaters in Broward County will see stepped up patrols on the waterways over the next two weeks.
The deputies’ operation is currently underway and will lead up to the Fourth of July.
Law enforcement officials estimate there are tens of thousands of new boaters since the beginning of the pandemic.
“There is a new record number of registered boaters out there,” said BSO Marine Unit Deputy Alex Jacobi.
Deputies said not all of them know what they’re doing.
That’s why, they said, the first week of the operation will focus on education, and they will try to avoid writing tickets whenever possible.
Next week, however, the warnings end.
7News joined BSO’s Marine Unit on Monday. It did not take long to make contact with a boater.
Deputies stopped the boater because the vessel’s registration decals were not visible.
“The reason we stopped you is, there’s no Florida numbers on the boat,” a deputy said.
In addition, the boater’s fire extinguisher wasn’t in working order, and although he had the proper number of life jackets, they had not been unwrapped yet.
“You couldn’t get access to it, so if there was an emergency situation, with panic going on, there’s no way he’s going to be able to open and distribute those [personal flotation devices],” said Jacobi.
This boater could have left with a number of tickets, but luckily for him, it’s warning week.
Another big issue is speed. There are three zones out on Broward waterways: no wake, idle speed and normal speed up to 25 miles per hour.
However, the boat’s wake, or the area of recirculating water behind the vessel, also plays a role, so when taking into consideration all the boaters out here, it amounts to a lot of information.
This week, the focus is on education, but next week will bring enforcement.
For those who are new to boating and not sure of all the rules, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers boaters safety courses online. Some of them are free. For more information, click here.
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