Coast Guard forces to augment at Lake Isabella over long holiday weekend

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif – With the start of the traditional recreational boating season Coast Guard forces will join the U.S. Forest Service and the Kern County Department of Parks and Recreation and Sheriff’s Department on Lake Isabella this Memorial Day Weekend, May 29-30.

This joint effort between the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities is an effort to increase boating safety and boating safety awareness on the lake over the long holiday weekend.

In addition to Coast Guard Auxiliary vessels out on the water conducting safety patrols a Coast Guard MH65-C rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles will be on hand. On Saturday and Sunday there will be a planned search and rescue demonstration near the Auxiliary Dam starting at 11:30 a.m. The rescue helicopter will also be on static display.

Mariners are also encouraged to take advantage of free Vessel Safety Checks prior to getting underway offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Following the rules and regulations below will help make this Memorial Day weekend safe at Lake Isabella:

  • Speed Limit: 5 mph (no wake) within 200 feet of shore, within 100 feet of swimmers (other than waterskiers), near docks, marinas or within South Fork Wildlife Area.
  • Alcohol or Drug Use: Alcohol or drug use is illegal while operating a boat and is a felony if such use causes death or serious injury. Conviction of intoxication while operating a boat may bring a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. Avoiding accidents requires 100% alertness.
  • Age and Safety Gear Requirements: Boat operators must be at least 16 years old. Each person aboard must have US Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD); water skiers and personal watercraft riders must wear PFDs at all times.
  • Towing Rules for Waterskiers, Inflatables, Etc: A tow boat must qualify to hold at least 3 people, including an observer at least 12 years old, capable of rescuing an injured waterskier. The observer must raise a red flag whenever a line is out or a skier is preparing to ski or a skier is down.
  • Right-of-Way Rules: These rules apply to everyone on the water, including windsurfers. As with driving a car, passing is on the right, yielding at a crossing gives the go-ahead to the vessel on the right and overtaking another vessel requires a wide berth. Anchored and sailing vessels usually have the right-of-way. The law says that avoiding a collision takes precedence over insisting on a right-of-way.
  • Avoidance Measures: Waterskiers, personal watercraft riders and windsurfers often seek the calmer waters near the Auxiliary Dam. These people may reach speeds from 35-70 mph, posing a hazard to each other as well as to boaters. Attempting to judge the speed of an oncoming person is difficult, particularly in a glare or mist; better to simply avoid congestion.

Also refer to the “ABC’s of the California Boating Law,” a booklet published by the State of California and available from the Kern County Parks Department.

Recognizing the large number of boaters in Kern County, the Coast Guard Auxiliary is actively recruiting new members in and around the Bakersfield area. For more information contact visit or www.d11s.org.

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