The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued ten citations to boats for speeding and wake violations in Marina del Rey Saturday and Sunday, August 11th and 12th, Marina Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Carriles said.
The citations came as part of a crackdown by the Marina Sheriff’s Station in a joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard establishing a “zero tolerance” policy for wake violations in an effort to target enforcement of the excessive wake ordinance.
The Coast Guard auxiliary also inspected about 12 boats for “carriage requirements,” including various safety equipment, Carriles said.
He praised the combined effort of the sheriff’s department and Coast Guard in targeting enforcement of the speed laws.
“It was a great joint operation,” he said. “We needed to get the message out about vessel speeds.”
The Coast Guard was involved in the operation primarily to help promote boating safety, said Lt. Shawn Lansing of the Coast Guard Los Angeles/Long Beach sector.
The wave created by a vessel speeding through the water can sometimes disturb other boats, causing them to rock, bang against the dock they are tied to or even knock an unsuspecting passenger overboard.
All boats traveling through the water create some form of a wave, also known as a “wake,” but it’s the kind of wakes that are made primarily by speeding vessels and are considered excessive that can become a problem for the boating community.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a wake is considered to be “excessive” if it causes other boats to rock violently, possibly turn over or knock a passenger overboard. The wake may even be strong enough to cause a boat to change its course toward another boat, according to the County Sheriff’s Department.
A primary concern with the large waves is “wake damage,” said Lt. Rod Kusch of Marina Sheriff’s Station, who is Marina harbormaster.
Vessels, such as houseboats, can sustain damage from the excessive wakes, as they cause the boat to bang up against the dock, Kusch said.
Wake-caused incidents have been a source of frustration for many boaters in Marina del Rey who have complained to the sheriff’s department about vessels creating excessive wakes inside the harbor, he said.
“We get a fair amount of complaints at community meetings,” said Kusch, referring to excessive wakes.
The large wakes can be formed by a variety of boats, he said. Some incidents have occurred with people who rent boats and are not aware of the wake problems or the speed laws, he added.
Sheriff’s officials say they are looking to crack down on speeding vessels that create excessive waves to get the word out to Marina boaters about the harbor’s excessive wake and speed ordinance.
According to the wake and speed ordinance, the speed limit for boats traveling in the outer harbor of the Marina entrance channel is eight knots (nautical miles per hour), except for public officers in the performance of their duties. The speed limit for boats in the Marina main channel is reduced to five knots.
Boats are not allowed to travel at a speed that would create “an unnecessary or excessive wake,” except for public officers in the performance of their duties, according to the ordinance.
A Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman called the enforcement of the wake law “good news,” saying the waves can be hard on seawalls and on other boats.
County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Operations officials said many of the excessive wake problems in the Marina could be solved if boats obeyed the five-knot speed limit in the main channel. But some boats at five knots may still create excessive waves, and will need to reduce speed to prevent that, according to Harbor Operations.
Most of the problems with the waves arise when vessels traveling at eight knots in the outer harbor cross into the five-knot zone of the main channel at the same speed, mostly due to inattention or lack of knowledge, Harbor Operations said.
Many boats are warned of their excessive wake by Marina sheriff’s deputies on the loudspeaker as they enter the main channel, Kusch said.
Jeff Gunn, a commercial captain for private yachts and commercial boats, said that while there are some boats and jet skis that have created excessive wakes by speeding in the Marina, he doesn’t consider the waves to be a major problem for the area.
By targeting enforcement of the wake and speed laws, the sheriff’s department can help educate boaters who may not be aware of the rules and regulations, Gunn said.
“Education is the key,” Gunn said. “Sometimes people don’t get the message until they get a ticket.”
Kristin Breum, assistant manager of Marina Boat Rentals, which rents powerboats, sailboats and kayaks, said she was pleased to see that sheriff’s officials are cracking down on the excessive wake issue.
“There are so many people who speed through here,” Breum said.
Boat rental employees make sure to inform customers of the speeding regulations before they go out on the water, she said.
“We go over all the rules and regulations when they leave the dock,” Breum said.
While sheriff’s officials are working to spread the message about the excessive wake issues, they say it is the boaters who must be responsible for the wakes and any damage they cause.