Boaters may have missed the familiar sight of the Rocky River police boat “Argus IV” plying the waters of Lake Erie between Avon Point and Edgewater Park during the start of the boating season. According to Marine Patrol head Lt. Carl Gulas, the boat has been dry-docked for repairs, but will be back on duty for the upcoming July 4 weekend.
“It (was) a day to day basis,” Gulas explained, stating the 11-year old Argus experienced “catastrophic engine failure” which led to the replacement of both of its engines.
“The average boater puts maybe 50 hours per year on an engine,” Gulas remarked, adding that the 26-foot police boat can tally 1,600 hours for its two engines during a season.
“That equals about 100,000 miles on a vehicle,” Gulas stated.
“The blessing is that this happened at the beginning of the season and not right in the middle,” Gulas added, stating the engine failure came as a surprise.
In April, the Rocky River Marine Patrol was one of 28 units statewide to be awarded a Marine Patrol Assistance Grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft. The city’s $25,706 share of a $573,832 state fund will be used to provide emergency response to boating related incidents, to conduct routine waterway patrols and for purchase of equipment.
Funds for the grant program, according to information provided by the ODNR, come from the state Waterway Safety Fund. This is largely made up of watercraft registration and titling fees, funding from the U.S. Coast Guard, and a share of the state gasoline tax.
The time needed for repairs prevented the Rocky River Marine Patrol from participating in Operation Dry Water, the weekend of June 24-26. The program is a national effort that focuses greater awareness on the need for boaters to stay safe and sober on the water.
Gulas said last year the Marine Patrol worked with the Coast Guard, randomly stopping hundreds of pleasure craft for safety checks. High gas prices did not seem to be a concer, and no local boaters were found to be under the influence of alcohol. Statewide, Ohio Division of Watercraft officers made thousands of contacts, and 11 arrests for boating under the influence. According to the ODNR, penalties for a first offense range from three days to six months in jail and a $150 to $1,000 fine. Minimum jail time increases to 10 days for a second offense and 30 days for a third.
Although alcoholic beverages are a big part of the boating scene for many, the ODNR recommends cooling off with water, sports drinks and other non-intoxicating refreshments. The website reported that alcohol is involved in about one in every three boating related accidents.