Chapter 11.04


11.04.010    Definitions.

11.04.020    Title application – Duty of sheriff’s office.

11.04.030    Numbering of vessels required – Exceptions.

11.04.010 Definitions.

For the purposes of this title, the words and phrases set out in this section shall have the following meanings:

A. “Vessel” means every watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water, other than seaplanes.

B. “Personal watercraft” means a vessel of less than 16 feet which uses a motor powering a jet-pump as its primary source of motive power and which is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling on, or being towed behind the vessel, rather than in the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.

C. “Sheriff” means the sheriff of Whatcom County or any duly appointed deputy sheriff of Whatcom County, or designee.

D. “Skin-diving” means any free swimming by a person who uses an artificial or mechanical means to replace his/her air, including self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, snorkel tube equipment, and free diving gear, but does not include swimmers using supervised public beaches designated as swimming areas.

E. “Diver’s flag” means a red flag five units of measurement on the hoist by six units of measurement on the fly with a white stripe of one unit crossing the red diagonally with the flag having stiffness. This flag shall only pertain to skin- and scuba-diving, and shall supplement any nationally recognized diver’s flag or marking.

F. “Skier’s down flag” means a bright red or brilliant orange flag not less than 12 inches square, mounted on a pole not less than two feet in length.

G. “Idling” or “no-wake speed” means a very slow speed not to exceed five miles per hour, whereby the wake or wash created by the vessel would be minimal.

H. “Person,” “he,” and “his” or other words specifying a particular gender include any natural person and, where relevant, a corporation, partnership, joint stock association, or an unincorporated association.

I. “Restricted area” means an area that is closed to all traffic therein when properly marked and designated for certain purposes such as swimming, skin-diving, ferry landings, aquatic and other special events. The method of markings and designation shall be in accordance with national, state and local standards and shall have been made by the sheriff or other agency having jurisdiction.

J. “Pier” means any pier, wharf, dock, float or other structure to promote the convenient loading or unloading, or other discharge of vessels, or the repair thereof.

K. “Limb-propelled floatation device” means any floatation device that lacks steering or propulsion. Watercraft designed for use with oars or a paddle are not included in this definition. (Ord. 2005-089 Exh. A; Ord. 90-83 (part)).

11.04.020 Title application – Duty of sheriff’s office.

A. The provisions of this title shall be applicable to all vessels and persons in or upon waters under the jurisdiction of Whatcom County; provided, that nothing in this title shall be construed as permitting the operation of any type, if the same is otherwise prohibited by law.

B. It shall be the duty of the Whatcom County sheriff’s office to enforce the provisions of this title. The provisions of this title shall be construed to supplement federal and state laws and regulations regarding the same subject matter when not inconsistent therewith. (Ord. 90-83 (part)).

11.04.030 Numbering of vessels required – Exceptions.

A. Every vessel operated in Whatcom County shall be numbered, except for provisions set forth in subsection B of this section. The number displayed, and the manner in which it is displayed, shall be in accordance with the standard national system for numbering as prescribed by the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 as now enacted and as hereafter amended or as prescribed by the state, if the state shall so legislate. The number displayed shall be that shown on a current certificate of number and must be painted on, or permanently attached to, each side of the vessel, and no other number shall be displayed except as provided in subsection B of this section.

B. A number shall not be required on any of the following:

1. A vessel owned and used by any governmental entity;

2. A vessel displaying a current number issued by a state having a federally approved numbering system;

3. A ship’s lifeboat;

4. A vessel that is used exclusively for racing;

5. Vessels of foreign ownership, temporarily using the waters of Whatcom County;

6. Non-motorized vessels under 16 feet in length. (Ord. 90-83 (part)).