Washington Boating Safety Course


CHECKING LOCAL HAZARDS

Before boating in any new or unfamiliar waterways, obtain local marine charts. If local charts are unavailable, consulting with local boaters and marinas is wise, as these sources usually have a wealth of knowledge about local hazards to avoid. Always consult with local authorities to obtain any local rules or restrictions, such as motorized operation restrictions or hours of operation and access to locking operations.

LOCAL HAZARDS TO BE WARY OF

Note: Low-head dams are especially hazardous to paddle craft. If you are paddling where a low-head dam is present, always portageThe act of carrying a boat or vessel overland between two waterways or around an obstacle to navigation. around the dam by carrying the boat and its cargo overland between the navigable waters. If you do get trapped in a hydraulic, tuck your chin down and hold your knees tight to your chest with your arms.

Lowhead Dam Watch out for power lines
  • Powerlines are especially hazardous for sailing vessels or vessels with a mast. Always make sure there is enough clearance to go safely underneath the lines. If you are unsure, don't chance it.
  • It's important to be aware of low seasonal waters. Remember that local charts show an average in water level. Generally waters are higher in the spring and lower through the summer.
  • Be mindful of obstructions such as bridges, channel openings, commercial fishing nets etc.

LOW-HEAD DAMS ARE DIFFICULT TO DETECT DOWNSTREAM.