Pleasure watercraft speed through Coronado Bay with Navy littoral ships in the background at Naval Base San Diego.
Pleasure watercraft speed through Coronado Bay with Navy littoral ships in the background at Naval Base San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The Coast Guard urged Southern California boaters to exercise safety and caution — and limit drinking — during the long holiday weekend.

Operation Dry Water” is an annual, nationwide campaign that takes place during the Fourth of July weekend, targeting boaters suspected of operating under the influence, the Coast Guard reported.

According to the Coast Guard, alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2019 in the U.S., accounting for more than 100 deaths — or 23% of total fatalities.

The Coast Guard also issued a warning regarding “illegal passenger vessel operations” — those that require some form of payment, including buying a ticket or paying a “required donation or economic benefit” — in which the vessel’s operator is not in compliance with federal passenger vessel regulations.

“Passenger safety is of utmost importance to us,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Kyra Dykeman of Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach. “We have experienced fatalities from illegal passenger operations, and highly encourage the public to ask to see an operator’s credentials.”

Vessel owners and operators can face maximum civil penalties of more than $65,000 for conducting illegal passenger-for-hire operations. Passengers are urged to verify a vessel and its operator are in compliance with regulations prior to their trip.

“Before boarding the vessel, ask to see the captain’s license and look for a current Coast Guard inspection sticker for commercial vessels carrying more than six passengers,” the Coast Guard said.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.