Boating safety for expected busy weekend - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Boating safety for expected busy weekend

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KENNEWICK, Wash--  For Mary Haakenson, getting her boat in the water was welcomed news.

"It's finally something to do other than house work and yard work," she says.

Mary will be one of many boaters on what's expected to be a busy weekend on the Columbia River.

"I think we'll be pretty busy," explains Deputy Tom Morton with the Benton County Sheriff's Office.  "This weekend is supposed to be nice all weekend, so I think we're going to have quite a few boats out."

That's why the Sheriff's Office is patrolling these waters. They're on the look out for any unsafe behavior.  You can be fined for overloading your boat, not having enough life jackets onboard, no navigation lights, as well as driving recklessly.  It may sound like common sense, but surprisingly, it's not commonly practiced.

"We stopped a boat 2 weeks ago that had 7 people on board and not 1 life jacket," Morton adds.

Deputies carry a check list around with them at all times; it's their cheat sheet of what you need on you at all times.  And new this year--anyone under 30 who is operating the boat needs a boating education card.

The bottom line is it's supposed to be leisurely, but break the rules, and it'll be a bumpy ride.