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Sheriff 1
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BEST

Mission

“Providing safety, security, and education to the recreational enthusiasts of Imperial County’s public lands and waterways.”

Imperial County Sheriff’s Office Boating Enforcement Safety Team (B.E.S.T) is committed to enhancing the safety and security of the residents and visitors to Imperial County’s Waterways/Recreational areas. To accomplish the mission, we provide education and information to members of the boating community, enforce State and Local ordinance to ensure safe boat operations, and train and prepare for emergency response in case of a vessel accident or natural disaster.

B.E.S.T. is located at 1050 North Eastern Ave, Brawley, CA. B.E.S.T. is funded through California Boating and Waterways Grant provided by California Division of Boating and Waterways. Information regarding boating requirement, safety and education, and maps of the lower Colorado River from Blythe to Imperial Dam can be found on http://www.dbw.ca.gov/.

B.E.S.T. provides law enforcement services to all waterways within the County of Imperial. These waterways include:

 

  • Salton Sea – 525 Square Miles
  • Bard Lake – 5 Square miles
  • Senators Wash – 8 Square Miles
  • Ferguson Lake – 5 Square Miles
  • Sunbeam Lake – 3 Square Miles
  • Ramer Lake – 8 Square Miles
  • Oxbow lake – 4 Square Miles
  • Pretty Water lake – 4 Square Miles
  • Clear Lake – 5 Square Miles
  • Finney Lake – 6 Square Miles
  • Wiest Lake – 4 Square Miles
  • Squaw Lake – 5 Square Miles
  • Little Squaw Lake – 3 Square Miles
  • Taylor Lake – 4 Square Miles
  • Colorado River – 83 Square Miles
  • Palo Verde Outfall – 8 Square Miles

 

The B.E.S.T. team consists of 1 Lieutenant, 1 Sergeant, 1 Senior Deputy, 2 Deputies, and an Office Assistant III.

For more information contact Sgt. Camilo Gonzalez, 1050 North Eastern Ave, Brawley, CA, (760)351- 3045.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

1. What is the age limit to operate a boat?

No person under 16 years of age may operate a motorboat of more than 15 horsepower, except for a sailboat that does not exceed 30 feet in length or a dinghy used directly between a moored boat and the shore, or between two moored boats. The law allows persons 12-15 years of age to operate motorboats of more than 15 horsepower or sailboats over 30 feet if supervised on board by a person at least 18 years of age.

2. What is the law for wearing a life jacket?

All children under 13 years of age are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while on board a vessel that is 26 feet or less while underway. Any person on board a Personal Watercraft, such as a jet ski, or any person being towed behind a vessel (as in water skiing or knee-boarding) must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.  If you are operating a boat, canoe or kayak of any length, you must carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board, regardless of age. If stored, they should be readily accessible.

3. How and when is it necessary to report a boating accident?

You must make a written report of a boating accident to the Department of Boating and Waterways when a person dies, disappears, or is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid. Also, a report to the Department of Boating and Waterways must be made if there is damage to any vessels involved or other property that equals or is greater than $500 or there is complete loss of a vessel. Forms are available through most Sheriff's and harbormaster's offices, and many police departments.

4. Do I have to register my boat?

Yes, every sail-powered vessel over eight feet in length and every motor-driven vessel that is not documented by the U.S. Coast Guard which is used or on the waters of this state must be registered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

5. What are the rules for operating a Personal Watercraft (PWC)?

(1) Every person on board of a PWC must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
(2) If the PWC has a lanyard cutoff switch, the operator must attach the lanyard to his or her person.
(3) PWCs may not be operated between sunset and sunrise.
(4) To operate a PWC designed for one person, the operator must be 16 years of age or older. A person 12-15 years of age may operate a PWC designed to carry two or more persons if the operator is supervised on board by a person 18 years of age or older.
(5) Every PWC shall have a U.S. Coast Guard marine grade fire extinguisher onboard.
(6) Every PWC shall have registration onboard.
(7) Every PWC shall have a sound device onboard.

6. What are the rules for operating a boat?

(1) The operator is responsible for the boat and its occupants.
(2) Every boat shall have a sound device.
(3) Every boat shall have a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type 4 throwable device, and shall be readily accessible.
(4) Every boat shall properly display the registration numbers and have registration onboard.
(5) Every boat shall have U.S. Coast Guard marine grade fire extinguisher onboard.
(6) Every boat shall carry U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board.
(7) No person under 16 years of age may operate a motorboat of more than 15 horsepower, except for a sailboat that does not exceed 30 feet in length or a dinghy used directly between a moored boat and the shore, or between two moored boats. The law allows persons 12-15 years of age to operate motorboats of more than 15 horsepower or sailboats over 30 feet if supervised on board by a person at least 18 years of age.

7. What are the rules for water skiing?

(1) When using a boat to tow someone on water skis or an aquaplane, there must be an additional in the boat other than the operator, with a minimum age of 12, to observe the skier. The observed must also have a red or orange water ski flag to indicate a downed skier.

(2) The skier must wear a Type 1, 2, 3, or 5 personal floatation device (PFD).

8. Do I need a license to operate a boat?

You do not need a license to operate a boat in California.

9. Is it illegal to drink alcohol on a boat?

It is not illegal to drink alcohol on a boat as a passenger. It illegal to operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The blood alcohol limit for boating is the same as that for driving a car - 0.08%.

10. Who patrols the Colorado River?

Both California and Arizona Law Enforcement Agencies have jurisdiction on the Colorado River. 853.2(a) PC of the California Penal Code allows for both California and Arizona Law Enforcement Agencies to have jurisdiction within 25 air miles of any lake, or body of water that is part of the Colorado River.

11. Is there a speed limit on a boat?

Yes, in some areas there are no wake zones, where a boat is to not to exceed 5 miles per hour or cause a wake. Look out for water markers and buoys. All channels and back waterways are an example of no wake zones and you are not to exceed 5 miles per hour. Not all channels have water markers or buoys but must abide by this rule.

12. What are some rules of the waterways?

Just like on the roadways, vessels should operate on the right side of the waterway. If coming head on with another vessel, both vessels should alter their course to the starboard side (to the right) to avoid a collision. When traveling near bends through a channel where approaching vessels from the other direction cannot be seen, you should signal with a prolonged blast (sound device). Approaching vessels should answer with the same signal. If the signal is unanswered, the channel should be considered clear. When passing or overtaking another boat from the starboard side (right) you should give one blast with your sound device to show your intentions of overtaking on the starboard side (right). When passing or overtaking on the portside side (left) you should give two blasts with your sound device to show your intentions of overtaking on the portside side (left). When the vessel’s engines area going astern (in reverse), you should give three blasts with your sound device to show your intentions of operating your engines astern (in reverse).

13. Is taking a Boating Safety Course mandated, and where can I find one?

No, a Boating Safety Course is not mandated, unless you are court ordered. One example would be being court ordered to attend an approved National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, after being convicted of boating under the influence. For a list of National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, visit www.dbw.ca.gov/BoaterInfo/BSClassesAndCourses.aspx

14. What are the boating and launch areas in the Imperial County area and are there any associated fees?

Imperial County Fees Park Fees:
Day Use - $2.00 per vehicle
Fishing Permit - $2.00 per person
Boat Launch - $5.00 per boat/ski trailer per day

Below is a list of Imperial County Parks.

(1)Sunbeam Lake Park, located at 1750 Drew Road, Seeley, CA 92273
Day Use - $2.00 per vehicle
Fishing Permit - $2.00 per person
Boat Launch - $5.00 per boat/ski trailer per day

(2)Weist Lake Park, located at 5351 Dietrich Road, Brawley, CA 92277

Day Use - $2.00 per vehicle
Fishing Permit - $2.00 per person
Boat Launch - $5.00 per boat/ski trailer per day

(3)Palo Verde Park, located on Highway 78,1.5 miles south of Palo Verde, CA 92266

Day Use - $2.00 per vehicle
Fishing Permit - $2.00 per person
Boat Launch - $5.00 per boat/ski trailer per day

(4)Salton Sea Park, located at 100225 State Park Road, Mecca, CA 92254 (Riverside County)

Day use area for - $5.00
Fishing, visitor center, picnic, birding, sightseeing - $30.00
Headquarters full RV hookups - $20.00
New Camp developed campground - $30
Boat Launch - $3.00

Below is a list of Colorado River Launch Areas

(1)Oxbow Camp Ground, located on Highway 78, 3 miles south of Palo Verde, CA 92266 Day

Use - $10.00 per vehicle or $15.00 overnight per vehicle

(2)Senator Wash Park, located at Senator Wash Road, Winterhaven, CA 92283

Day Use - $10.00 per vehicle or $15.00 overnight per vehicle

(3) Squaw Lake Park, located on Senator Wash Road, Winterhaven, CA 92283

Day Use - $10.00 per vehicle or $15.00 overnight per vehicle

(4)Walters Camp, located on Walters Camp Road, Palo Verde, CA 92266
Day Use – Private location, see Walter’s Camp office for details

(5)Picacho State Park, located 26 miles north of Interpark Rd, Winterhaven, CA 92283

Day Use – Peak Season $8.00 None Peak Season $8.00 per vehicle

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