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The Ins and Outs of San Diego Boating

The days are getting longer and warmer, and boaters all over the city are gearing up to take to the San Diego Bay. If you’re a first-time boat owner, ready to take your new-to-you used San Diego boat out on the water, read up on the rules and regulations of boating on the Bay to ensure a safe and fun day in the sun.

Speed Limits

In areas that don’t have a designated speed limit, boaters are expected to navigate the waters at a “safe and prudent” speed. Determining a safe speed should include factors like visibility, vessel density, winds and currents, and vessel manageability.

All lagoons, including the America’s Cup Harbor, Harbor Island East and West, Glorietta Bay, and Shelter Island Yacht Basin, are 5 mph zones. The 5 mph rule must also be followed when within 100 feet of swimmers or 200 feet of a populated beach with swimmers, floats for passenger loading and unloading, or a lifeline, swimming float, or diving platform.

Required Equipment

Whether you own a 30-foot Boston Whaler or a 46-foot Hatteras Yacht, you’ll be expected to have the following Coast Guard-approved equipment on board that’s readily accessible and in serviceable condition.

  • A life jacket for every person on board
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Backfire flame arrestor
  • Muffling system
  • Ventilation system
  • Sound signaling devices
  • Visual distress signals
  • Navigation lights

Drinking and Boating

Although the legal limit in San Diego is .08%, at .035% a person’s ability to properly operate a vessel is impaired and his or her depth perception, night vision, balance and coordination, reaction time, and comprehension and concentration are all affected.  There are no “open container” laws for boats like there are cars, but it’s illegal to operate a vessel while under the influence. If a boater operates a vessel while under the influence or drugs or alcohol, according to California boating law:

  • He or she will be charged with a misdemeanor and face a $1,000 fine and up to 1 year in jail.
  • If injury to another person is caused, the boater will be charged with a felony and face a $5,000 fine and one year in prison.
  • If death is caused, he or she will be charged with a felony and face 10 years in prison.
  • He or she will be required to take and pass a boating safety course
  • He or she could face licenses suspension of 6 months to 5 years by the DMV depending on the circumstances

These are the very basics to get you going. However, before taking to the Bay, be sure to read up on proper boat maintenance including oil waste discharge, green boating practices, waterway markings, and waterway navigation. If you have questions, you can always reach out to the San Diego boating experts at Ballast Point Yachts, Inc. Aside from a well-stocked inventory of used boats and yachts, we also can secure San Diego boat financing and insurance, or help you select a marina slip. Give us a call at (619) 222-3620. We look forward to hearing from you!