Welcome to the lakes of Calhoun County. We hope that you will have a safe and enjoyable experience on our waterways.

The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol shares the responsibility with the Department of Natural Resources to patrol the lakes and streams of the county.

If an emergency should arise on any county waterway, boaters are urged to contact 911. Any other marine-related questions should be addressed to the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office, Marine Patrol Unit at (269) 781-0880.

Important Boating Information

Remember to include safety equipment on your boat.Step 1: Safety Equipment For Your Boat

1. Life Preservers (Personal Flotation Devices - PFD)

  • Small boats, less than 16 feet in length, need only a United States Coast Guard (U.S.C.G.) approved PFD on board for each passenger.
  • Larger boats, 16 feet or longer, must have a "wearable" Type I, Type II, or Type III PFD, designed to be worn, for each person on board. The vessel must also be equipped with a Type IV "throwable" PFD, a Type IV PFD is a device designed to be thrown to a person overboard. U.S.C.G. approved Type IV PFD's are of the "ring" or "seat cushion" varieties.
  • By law, PFD's must be "readily accessible" and "immediately available". They are of little value if you can't get to them! Hand a PFD to each crew member as they board your vessel.
  • PFD’s must also be "serviceable". If they do not work, they won't save your life!  Ensure that all straps, seams, labels and flotation pieces are in good working order. Look at the label and make sure that the PFD is sized for the intended wearer.

2. Fire Extinguishers

  • If vessel of any length is construed as to trap gasoline vapors, it must be equipped with a U.S.C.G. approved fire extinguisher. Boats less than 26 feet in length need only one B1 type fire extinguisher. Boats longer than 26 feet in length need more than one B1 or B2 type fire extinguishers. Be safe, you can get a larger one for extra safety. Make sure that your fire extinguisher(s) are both "serviceable" and "accessible".

3. Registration Numbers

  • Motorists are given a plate already made. We skippers must make our own, which can result in a vessel improperly numbered.
  • Any boat that has an electric or gas motor or any other type of propulsion machinery, must be registered. All sailboats must also be registered.
  • Look closely at the diagram: MC 1234 AA (decal). The letters must be block letters at least three inches high. The letters must read from left to right. The characters must also be of a contrasting color. Three inches must separate prefixes, suffixes, numbers, and the registration decal, at the far right. The characters must be on the forward half of the vessel as high out of the water as practical.

4. Lights and Horns

  • Lights are required on motorboats between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of low visibility. Anchored motor boats need only display a white aft light. Non-powered vessels need only display a white lantern to prevent a collision.
  • Horns are required on vessels 16 feet in length or longer.

Operating your vessel properly will keep you and others safe!Step II: Operating Your Vessel Safely

1. Skiing

  • Towing anyone on skis, sleds, or similar contrivance, requires a team effort, consisting of the skipper of the boat and a second person as a competent observer.

2. Capacity Plates

  • Capacity plates are located in the vessel for your safety. Remember each person weighs 150 pounds according to the law. Do not exceed this number or pound value. Failure to do so may be viewed as "careless operation".

3. Slow No Wake Speed

  • Slow no wake is a speed of a vessel which makes a wake or wash that is minimal. Go no faster than this when within 100 feet of any dock, raft, anchored vessel bathing beaches, or buoys. Some local laws require this speed in congested areas.

4. High Speed Boating

  • High speed boating is when the boat reaches a "planing" condition. Make sure you are in open water to avoid collision. For fast boats, inland lakes have a 55 mph speed limit.
  • Violation of this law is reckless operation of a vessel.

Other Important Information

  • PFD's cannot be stored in plastic bags.
  • Vessel must go "counter-clockwise" around the lake.
  • All boats must stay at least 200 feet away from a diving flag. A diving flag is a red flag with a diagonal white stripe. It may be seen on a floating buoy or even displayed on a boat.
  • The operator of the vessel must have the registration on board.
  • Rubber rafts must have PFD's on board.
  • Intoxicated vessel operators go to jail!
  • You are liable for damage caused by your wake.
  • It is illegal to ride on the side (gunwale) or covered bow of the boat, unless the manufacturer designed the boat for that use.
  • Children 12 to 16 years of age must have a Boating Safety Certificate to operate a motorboat of six horsepower or more. The certificate must be in their possession while operating the boat.
  • Some insurance companies give lower rates to skippers who have completed safety courses.
  • Non-Use of PFD's is found in over 80% of all drownings.
  • Wearing PFD's increases your survival chances in a water accident.

If A Water / Boating Accident Or Emergency Occurs

If a person is injured, or more than $200.00 in damage is suspected the appropriate water accident or boating accident report must be completed.

In Calhoun County the following agencies will be happy to assist you.

  • Emergency, CALL 911
  • Calhoun County Sheriff's Office, Marine Patrol Unit, (269) 781-0880

Personal Watercrafts

Personal watercrafts can be fun but remember to use them wisely.Personal watercrafts are relatively new in the waters and are a lot of fun. Some laws have been enacted to make these vessels a safer experience.

  • PFD's must be worn.
  • The kill switch must be connected to the operator.
  • Do not follow less than 11.5 feet behind another boat.
  • An operator must be 16 years of age or older or have a boating safety certificate if between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age.
  • A personal watercraft (PCW) cannot be operated between sunset and sunrise.
Calhoun County, 315 West Green Street, Marshall, MI 49068 | Phone: (269) 781-0700
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