National Safe Boating Week is May 20-26, and as the boating season revs up, here are some reminders.
Life jackets save lives, and Illinois law requires that life jackets or life vests be available for each person aboard a boat or other watercraft. Anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket while aboard any watercraft under 26 feet in length at all times the boat is underway, unless they are below deck in an enclosed cabin or operating on private property. Everyone must wear a PFD while operating a personal watercraft. At SRYC, children under 13 must wear a life jacket on the docks.
Check your three-year boat registration/decal and renew their registration if it expires on June 30, 2017. Renew on the IDNR website at https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/boating/Pages/HowToRegister.aspx or by phone at 1-866-867-3542. To renew registration, have available the watercraft’s Illinois registration number, the first six characters of the watercraft’s hull ID number, the first three letters of the registered owner’s last name, and a credit card.
Owners of non-motorized watercraft, including canoes, kayaks and paddle boats, are required to purchase an Illinois Water Usage Stamp for $6.00 per year. Find stamps anywhere fishing or hunting licenses are sold.
Illinois law requires anyone born after January 1, 1998 to complete a Safe Boating course (and carry proof of it) in order to operate a boat with an engine larger than 10hp. Free one-day classes are offered at the Lock & Dam Visitor Center on June 24 and July 22. Call the park rangers at 815-667-4054 to register.
And speaking of fishing licenses, even if you don’t have one, Illinois Free Fishing Days are scheduled for June 16-19, 2017. For more information on fishing in Illinois visit www.ifishillinois.org.
The Illinois River at Ottawa will crest at about 466 ft. on Tuesday, May 2, according to National Weather Service estimates. While the NWS forecast a few days ago predicted record-setting highs, a level of 466 feet would not make it into the top 5 all-time high water marks. Still, area residents and businesses are feeling the effects of closed roads and parking lots, flooded basements, mud and debris. Two power outages at SRYC over the weekend and well as road closures along Dee Bennett added to the inconvenience and uncertainty. If the forecast is accurate, our docks will rise about 6 feet, then fall back to normal over the next few days.