Monday, September 21, 2015

"The Masthead" Issue # 5 1-31-08 Harbor Patrol and Deputy James Davis

Welcome back to our three part series with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol and Deputy James Davis.

Q. I noticed a patrol boat in the Back Bay the other day. Why are you patrolling this area?
A. First, we regularly operate in the Back Bay so we can maintain a familiarity with the area. Second, we are there to make sure there are no violations taking place. We are also ensuring that people are not beaching their boats and getting to close with the wildlife. We also check on the dredging gear whenever we transit the area

Q. What are some of the more common violations you encounter?
A. Speeding has to be the most common followed by lifejackets for the kids and proper registration.

Q. Do you have problems with nuisance radio traffic?
A. We are very fortunate, in that nuisance radio traffic is not large problem. The Coast Guard stays on top of that and we back them up when needed. Most people know to do their radio checks on Channel 9.

Q. What are some common courtesies skippers should keep in mind while operating their boats?
A. Not pushing your right of way would be good start . You could be in a crossing situation with another vessel and notice the skipper has been distracted or does not understand the course of a sailboat. If the skipper would just give way to the other vessel the possibility of an accident could be avoided. Sometimes we see this occurring with the people rowing or skippers making sudden course changes without looking. This minor courtesy would increase all boaters safety while on the water.

Q. Do you have any good launch ramp stories?
A. OOOOOYEAH! A skipper was instructed, to “ JUST FLOOR IT” so they did and placed the boat, not on the trailer, but in the bed of the pick up truck. You can’t help but notice the same mistakes occur over and over again. So we focus on drain plugs, tie downs, and safety issues and inform the boaters of our observastions.

Q. While patrolling, do you ever get out of the boat and walk around?
A. Absolutely! In the summer months we will get out at the ferry lanes and the Rhine Channel and interact with the public as much as possible. The public is really our eyes and ears as to what is occurring in the bay and they are the ones we depend on for information about problem we may not normally encounter during normal patrols. We also maintain a presence in the areas where there is a higher likelihood of people operating their boats while under the influence.

Q. How do you stay focused on the “Dog Watches” when it’s cold and not a lot of activity?
A. We call them the “Midnight Shifts” and there is plenty to do. As you know we are on duty 24/7, 365 days a year with several different shifts throughout the day. We focus on noise, water movement and anything out of place. As for the cold weather we do have an enclosed steering station and heat to help us out.

Q. Do you have other tools to help you out at night?
A. Yes, We have night vision and thermal imaging equipment. There are times when a house has been broken into and Newport Police has asked us to come by and with the thermal imaging equipment attempt to locate people who might be hiding to the rear of the residence or on the docks.

This was part two of a three part series with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol. So come back next week to hear about patrol techniques, how to keep sea lions off your boat and what call Deputy Davis does not look forward to responding to

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