1. WATER ACCESS... Where to sail in the Inland NW
2. MARINE DIRECTORY... Sailing resources, i.e. Rentals, Marinas, Parks, etc.
3. MARINE GUIDE... Rules, Weather, Emergency Contacts, etc.

1. Water Access... Find Boat Launches, Marinas, Marine Parks, Accessibility (disAbility) Info included...


2. MARINE DIRECTORY... Rentals, Marinas, Repairs, Emergency Contacts (Sheriff, US Coast Guard Aux.), etc.


1st Class Signs & Graphics... Get your boat lettering made here... Serving the Inland NW...208-699-5000


Elephant Boys Surplus - OUTBOARD MOTORS & BOAT SALES - 12606 E., Sprague, Spokane Valley, WA. 509-926-6894
Marks Marine - OUTBOARD MOTORS 12620 - E Indiana Spokane, WA. 208-772-9038
Quality Auto & Marine - OUTBOARD & INBOARD MOTOR REPAIRS - 1108 E Hanley Ave, Dalton Gardens, ID 83815 208-664-2260
Resort Boat Shop - FIBERGLASS & WOOD REPAIR, etc.  241 S Young Post Falls, ID...208-667-5009 - SAILBOAT, RIGGING, & ACCESSORIES - 406 W. Miles Ave. Hayden, ID. 208-704-4454
West Marine - 306 E Sprague Ave, Spokane Valley, WA 509-533-5532


MacDonald’s Hudson Bay Resort - 14725 E Hudson Bay Rd., Byvw, ID. 208-683-2211


North Idaho Maritime - Lake CdA... 53 W Boekel Rd. Hydn, ID. 208-664-8215


Kayak Coeur d'Alene - Purchase a kayak or paddle board; rent a touring kayak or go for a kayak tour via Coeur d'Alene kayaks. For more info call Coeur d'Alene Kayaks at 208/877-676-1533 or visit their website at . They do not rent Hobie Mirage kayaks. - HOBIE ISLAND Sailing Kayaks/Sail Yaks. Visit and click on the Hobie Cat section. 208-704-4454 or visit


Bitter End Marina - "Sailboats only marina," Byvw, ID...208-683-2534
Blue Diamond Marina - 958 Blue Diamond Rd Coolin, ID...208-443-2240
Boardwalk Marine - Lake CdA, ID...208-415-5600
Bottle Bay Resort & Marina - 115 Resort Rd. Sdpt, ID...208-263-5916
Conkling Marina & Resort - 20 W Jerry Ln, Worley, ID...208-686-1151
Gozzer Ranch - Lake Coeur d'Alene, Prive Marina, Members only. CdA, ID. 208-765-9034 or 208-665-6600
Hayden Lake Marina - S Hayden Lake Rd Hydn Lk, ID...208-762-0181
Hope Marina & Services - 47392 HWY 200, Hope, ID...208-264-5105
Holiday Shores Resort & Marina - 46624 Hwy 200 East Hope, ID...208-264-5515
Scenic Bay Resort & Marina of Bayview - Byvw, ID...208-683-2243
Silver Beach Marine - Lake CdA... 208-415-5600
Loon Lake Marina - 41080 Marina Rd. Loon Lake, WA...509-233-2303
Low’s Resort - 6604 Jim Low Rd, Nordman, ID. (Priest Lk)...208-443-2631
MacDonald Hudson Bay Resort - Hudson Bay Rd. Byvw, ID.208-683-2211
Priest Lake Marina - 6516 W. Lakeshore Rd Prst Lk, ID...208-443-2405
Thompson Landing - Blackwell Isl. CdA, ID...208-664-8215
Yacht Club Sales & Service - S. 1000 Marina Dr. Blackwell Isl. CdA, ID...208-664-8274


Kayak Coeur d'Alener - Purchase a kayak or paddle board; rent a touring kayak or go for a kayak tour via Coeur d'Alene kayaks. For more info call Coeur d'Alene Kayaks at 208/877-676-1533 or visit their website at


Kayak Coeur d'Alene - KAYAK & PADDLE BOARD RENTALS - Purchase a kayak or paddle board; rent a touring kayak or go for a kayak tour via Coeur d'Alene kayaks. For more info call Coeur d'Alene Kayaks at 208/877-676-1533 or visit their website at
North Idaho College, Outdoor Pursuits - Hobie Wave catamarans, Kayak and Canoe rentals right off the beach into Lake Coeur d'Alene Idaho. Also can rent a moorage on the beach for the summer. Rentals are open Memorial Day-Labor Day, 7 Days/Week. Contact 208-769-7809 or visit
Coeur d'Alene Parasail - KAYAK & PEDAL BOATS - Independence Point Dock, CdA, ID. 208-765-2999

MacDonalds Hudson Bay Resort - Rents a Ranger 20' Keelboat at Bayview Idaho: - Phone: 208-683-2211


Inland Northwest Sailors - Hayden Idaho - Primarily located in Kootenai and Spokane County but includes all counties of the Inland NW. This is a trailerable sailing club which includes mostly Hobie catamarans and Islands, and trailerable keelboats, and other small day-sailors. For more info email or visit
Sandpoint Sailing Association - Sandpoint Idaho - Keelboat club only, no small non-ballasted sailboats welcome. Has a large fleet of J-Boats. For more info visit
Lake Pend Oreille Yacht Club - Bayview Idaho - For large Keelboats only. For more info visit
Lewiston and Clarkston Sailing Club - Clarkston WA - Primarily a trailerable Keelboat club. For more info visit
Columbia Basin Sailing Club - Clarkston WA - Located in the Tri-Cities area of WA. Primarily sail Trailerable keelboats, small monohulls like the Fly Scouts, and Hobie's. For more info
Southern Idaho Sailing Association - Boise Idaho - Not located within the Inland NW. Primarily sails trailerable Keelboats, Hobie's, etc. For more info visit


Yager Sails and Canvas - 15117 E. 2nd, Spokane Valley, WA. 1-509-928-1964 Cell 1-509-939-6394.

Expert Marine Technology - 3350 N Old Atlas Rd, CdA, ID. 208-667-9838


North Idaho Maritime - Lake CdA... 53 W Boekel Rd. Hydn, ID. 208-664-8215


Hitches Unlimited, Inc. - 1303 Sherman Ave CdA, ID. 208-667-4543. Toll Free...800-770-4543 - Sailboat Trailers. 208-704-4454


Coeur d'Alene Crane & Construction Services - 337 S. Lawrence Str., Post Falls, ID. 208-666-1405
Expert Marine Technology - 3350 N. Old Atlas Rd CdA, ID. 208-667-9838
Resort Boat Shop - 241 S Young Pst Fls, ID...208-667-5009 208-704-4454
North Idaho Maritime - Lake CdA... 53 W Boekel Rd. Hydn, ID. 208-664-8215


Yager Sails and Canvas - 15117 E. 2nd, Spokane Valley, WA. 1-509-928-1964 Cell 1-509-939-6394
Hope Marine Services - 47392 HWY 200, Hope, ID. 208-264-5105
FunToSAIL - Hydn, ID. 208-704-4454 . We sell Hobie trampolines, after market trampolines, and other canvas products. All custom tramp and bimini work is referred to Hope Marine Services . Sails, sail covers, etc. are supplied by us via our many vendors.

3. MARINE GUIDE... Rules, Water Levels, Weather, etc. (Last updated 2016)


INLAND NORTHWEST WATER LEVELS, ETC. NOAA Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service - Click Here!






Lake Coeur d'Alene (includes anticipated changes in water flow and elevation for the coming week) 208-769-1357, and online Click Here!

Lake Spokane/Long Lake (includes anticipated changes in water flow and elevation for the coming week) 509-495-8043. There is no online source for this lake however there is the Spokane River reports... Click Here!

Avista Lake Coeur d’Alene, Spokane River & Lake Weather & Water Flow:

NOAA Lake Coeur d'Alene, Spokane River & lake Water Levels:


Lake Roosevelt & Grand Coulee Dam:

Water Level at Grand Coulee DamBureau of Reclamation, Grand Coulee Power Office, PO Box 620, Grand Coulee, WA  99133-0620, (509) 633-9507

Snake River/Reservoirs & Locks Info (Walla Walla District): 509-527-7115

Dworshak Dam Control Room Operator can be reached at 208-476-1231. Recorded Dworshak reservoir information can be obtained by calling 1-800-321-3198. Water level at Dam...


ALL boaters should take a boater safety course or equivalent. All state boater safety courses are primarily focused on power boating as many states, including Washington State, require boaters utilizing boats with motors with a hp of 15 or greater to have a current safe boating license. Currently, neither Idaho or Montana require safe boating licenses.

Idaho Laws/Rules: Although there is no state-wide law specifying a minimum age to operate a vessel, all operators must be competent and are held responsible for knowing the navigation rules. In addition, there are local age regulations. Be sure to contact counties and cities where you plan to boat about local ordinances.

Idaho law requires boater education under these conditions:

-   Personal watercraft (PWC) rental businesses must provide education to each person who will ride and operate a PWC. The operator of the PWC must carry  a verification wallet card. The Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation provides the educational materials to rental businesses.

-   In addition to penalties, boaters are required to pass a boating course if they are convicted of operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

-   Boaters who are repeat offenders of any boating law or rule are also required to pass a boating course.


You must have an Idaho Certificate of Registration and validation stickers to operate your vessel legally on Idaho waters. The only exceptions are:

-   Manually propelled vessels (for example, canoes, rafts, and kayaks)

-   Float tubes (single inner tube construction with or without a motor)

-   Sailboards

-   Vessels properly registered in another state and on Idaho waters for 60 or fewer consecutive days.

-   Vessels documented with the U.S. Coast Guard


As of January 1, 2000, the following vessels must be titled - Any vessel with a permanently attached mode of propulsion and model year 2000 or newer (for example: inboards, stern drives, PWCs, and sailboats). Vessels over 12 feet in length with an outboard motor or sail power.

BOAT SAFETY COURSE INFO: Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
2750 Kathleen Ave., Ste. 1, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815. Tel. 208-769-1511., & online courses @



-   Speed Limit on Lakes: Day - 50 mph; Night - 20 mph.

-   Speed Limit on Rivers: Day - 35 mph; Night - 20 mph.

-   No Wake Zone (5 mph) on Lakes: Within 200' of shoreline, dock, pier, bridge, breakwater or person in water.

-   No Wake Zone on Rivers: 100'. Bonner County Within 50' of any other vessel shall be no wake.

-   Adult supervision is required when an operator of a boat or other vessel is between the ages of 10 to 14 unless the motor is 10 horsepower or less, and personal water craft of any horse power.

-   Children aged 14 and under must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when they are aboard a vessel 19' long or less when the vessel is underway or under power. This applies to manually propelled boats as well as motorboats.


-   Within one hundred (100') feet of any other vessel, the speed shall be reasonable and prudent, but not in excess of fifteen (15) miles per hour.


BOAT NOISEAll vessels shall meet requirements for engine and hull noise when operating on the waters of Idaho. They shall be equipped with an effective, permanently installed muffling system which cannot be bypassed. Vessels built before January 1, 1995 shall not exceed 90dB(A) using the stationary test, and those built after that date shall not exceed 88dB.


Currently Idaho is the only state within the Inland NW with laws you must abide related to water based invasive species. Please visit the Idaho state website at to stay current related to laws and policies. In Idaho all water craft must have an invasive species sticker displayed (you will get a ticket if you do not have it). Only exception is water craft registered in Idaho. Idaho registration and thus the hull registration sticker counts as an invasive species sticker. On most major roads entering Idaho there is a invasive species check station that one is required by law to stop at to insure your boat does not have an invasive species attached.

Specific tips how to keep your watercraft free of invasive species.

-   Inspect: Inspect all exposed surfaces - small mussels feel like sandpaper.

-   Wash: Wash the boat thoroughly with high pressure/hot water.

-   Remove: Remove all plant and animal material.

-   Drain: Drain all water and dry all areas.

-   Dispose: Dispose of all bait.

-   Wait: Wait five days and keep boat dry between launches.

Idaho's invasive species website (can also buy your sticker on this site)


The Legal Requirements of Boating - Who May Operate a Vessel?

Those 12 years of age and younger: May not legally operate any motorized vessel over 10 horsepower (including personal watercraft) unless accompanied by someone who is at least 18 years old.

Those 13 to 14 years of age: May legally operate a motorized vessel over 10 horsepower (including personal watercraft) only if they:

-   Possess a valid Montana motorboat operator’s safety certificate or have evidence of completing an approved boating safety course, or...

-   Are accompanied by a person 18 years old or older.

-   A person must be at least 18 years old to rent a motorized vessel over 10 horsepower (including personal watercraft).

Motorboat Operator's Safe Boating Certificate - Operators required to have a boater education certificate (currently only those 13-14 are required to have a license when boating without an adult in boats with 10 hp motors or more) must carry it on board the vessel. These certificates are obtained by passing a boating safety course approved by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

REGISTRATION: Sailboats 12 feet long and longer and all motorboats and personal watercraft must be registered and numbered. Non-motorized sailboats less than 12 feet long and manually propelled boats, regardless of length, and exempt from registration and taxation. Additional exemptions include: vessel's lifeboat, government owned boats, and properly registered boats from out of state or country which will not be in Montana for more than 90 consecutive days. Out-of-state boats used in Montana for more than 90 consecutive days must be registered at the county treasurer's office in the county where the boat will be principally used.

TITLE: All vessels that require registration must also be titled in Montana. You must apply for a title within 40 days of the purchase or transfer.

BOAT SAFETY COURSE INFO: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; 1420 E 6th Avenue
Helena, MT 59620-0701. 406-444-2535. & online courses @

INVASIVE SPECIES LAWS & POLICIES: Currently Montana has no invasive species laws related to water based activity. Stay tuned as rumor is they are working on it. Visit Montana's website to keep up to date at


Legal Requirements of Boating - Who May Operate a Vessel?

-   You must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft legally.

-   It is illegal to lease, hire, or rent a personal watercraft to anyone under 16 years of age.

-   Future requirements have been set by a Washington boating safety education law that was passed in 2005. This new law will be phased in so that all boaters, unless exempted, must obtain a Washington boater education card by January 1, 2014. The new law requires the following:

No one may operate or permit the operation of a power-driven vessel with an engine that is 15 horsepower or more, including a personal watercraft, unless the operator:

-   Is at least 12 years of age if the vessel is not a personal watercraft or is at least 14 years of age if the vessel is a personal watercraft and ... The person has in his or her possession a boater education card (if required) or ...

-   Is accompanied by and is under the direct supervision of a person at least 16 years of age who has a boater education card or who is not yet required to have the card.

The phase-in schedule by age group for completing the mandatory boater safety education to obtain a card is as follows. When do I need a card? 2008 AGE 20, 2009 AGE 25; 2010 AGE 30; 2011 AGE 35; 2012 AGE 50; 2013 AGE 50; 2014 AGE 59. Persons required to have a Boater Education Card must carry it on board whenever operating.

Persons exempted from the phased-in mandatory boater safety education requirement include:

-   Any person born before January 1, 1955

-   Any person who is renting, chartering, or leasing a power-driven vessel with an engine that is 15 horsepower or more (other than a personal watercraft) and who completes an approved motor vessel safety operating and equipment checklist

-   Any person at least 16 years of age who is renting, chartering, or leasing a personal watercraft and who completes an approved motor vessel safety operating and equipment checklist

-   Any person who is a non-resident and who operates on Washington waters for 60 consecutive days or fewer

-   Any person who is a non-resident and holds a current, approved out-of-state or out-of-country certificate or card

-   Any person who has purchased the vessel within the last 60 days and has a bill of sale in his or her possession

-   Operators of commercial, law enforcement, or government vessels and persons with a USCG captain’s license

-   Operators involved in practicing for or participating in a permitted marine event.

BOAT SAFETY COURSE INFO: Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. 7150 Clearwater Drive S.W., Olympia, WA 98504-2650. 360-586-6592/1-800-336-2628. & online courses @

INVASIVE SPECIES LAWS & POLICIES: Currently Washington has no invasive species laws related to water based activity. Stay tuned as rumor is they are working on it. Visit Montana's website to keep up to date at


FLOAT PLAN – Float Plans are essential in enabling rescue personal to find you in case of emergency. A Float Plan is as simple as telling a reliable friend or family member when and where you plan to boat. It is best to write out your plan and post it on your refrigerator or in a visible place that a friend or family member can see. Information on a float plan include but are not limited to where you plan to go, when you expect to return, if your trailering - where you plan to leave your vehicle and trailer, description of your vessel with hull registration numbers, and other identifiable info.

FIRST AID – It is recommended that you take a first aid course to prepare for unforeseen incidents while boating. Contact your local Hospital or College for First Aid course availability. Of course your boat should be equipped with a marine first aid kit and safety equipment.

WEATHER – You must always check the weather before setting out on a boating trip to check winds and other predicted conditions. You can check the weather online or via your local weather TV and/or radio stations. The Weather service broadcast weather reports via 162.400, 162.475, and 162.550 MHz in areas where this service is available. In the Inland NW storm advisories are not displayed via flags or lights.

WEATHER WEBSITES: Go to local National Weather Service phone # @ 509-244-0110 Weather bug is less detailed than NOAA but does have local weather stations and is better than weather underground Private citizens can also create a local weather station that is reported online such as LIVE BAYVIEW WEATHER REPORT - Create your own weather station online via your personal weather gear @

RADIO FREQUENCIES AND PROCEDURES: Contained here are most of the marine channels and phone numbers for the Inland NW. When boating please check with the local law enforcement for current emergency numbers and frequencies to insure you have the current information.

Transmitter Location     Call Sign     Frequency

Bonner Ferry, ID.          WWG-99     162.500

Lewiston, ID.               WXK-98      162.550

Spokane, WA.              WXL-86      162.400

Wenatchee, WA.          WXM-48     162.475

NWR three main frequencies            162.4, 162.475, 162.55 MHz

Marine Radio and Distress Procedures: When in distress or observing a distress situation on the water or near land call via your VHF, channel 16 and say “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY THIS IS and state your vessels name and registration numbers, repeated 3 times.

If you are onboard a vessel that is in distress/trouble; DO the following:

1.   State your name, WHO you are and vessel registration numbers

2.   Next state WHERE you are located via latitude and longitude or a true bearing in nautical miles from a well known geographical point. If you do not know this type of info try to give as exact info as possible.

3.   State WHAT is exactly wrong.

4.   Indicate WHAT type of assistance you need.

5.   Indicate the condition of the injured if any and how many persons are on board.

6.   Indicate the condition of your vessels seaworthiness.

7.   Describe your vessel in detail – type (sail or power), length, cabin, color of hull and/or sail, any unique features that make your boat stand out.

8.   The frequency you are listening to and your schedule.

If you are observing a boat in distress/trouble or issue on shore; DO the following:

1.   Give your position and if possible the position of the boat in distress.

2.   Give WHAT is exactly wrong.

3.   Describe the vessel in distress or issue on shore.

4.   Your intention to help, your speed and course.

5.   The call signal you are using, the name of your vessel, listening frequency, and your schedule.

When needing information or assistance from the Marine Division of the Sheriffs Department when NOT in distress use Channel 13. Some sheriff departments do not have marine divisions. The Inland NW area does not have the Coast Guard so the Sheriff departments of each counties handle marina issues, etc. After making such contact you will normally be shifted to a working channel such as channels 21-23, which move you away from the distress signal to keep it clear for emergencies.

Channel 13 is a general vessel communication channel.

Channel 16 is an emergency/distress channel ONLY (similar to 911).

Radio Checks: It is prohibited to use channel 16 for radio checks. 

PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICES (PFD’S): All boats must carry on board at least one Coast Guard approved (type I, II, III, V) PFD per person. Violation of not carrying enough PFD’s on board results in breaking State and Federal laws.

PFD & Flotation Requirements:

- Canoes & Kayaks of any length and boats under 16 feet must carry one PFD for each person (type I, II, III, or V)

- Boats 16 feet or more in length must carry one throw able (Type IV) and one PFD for each person on board (type I, II, III, V). It is highly recommended you carry more than one throw able on board so when a person falls overboard you can get one to the person in the water and more to litter the water so it is easier to spot the person overboard.
FIRE EXTINGUISHERS: There are 3 approved fire extinguisher types for marine use: Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Dry Chemical, and Halon. Foam, Carbon Tetrachloride, Chlorobromomethane, and other TOXIC vaporizing-liquid extinguishers are not approved for marine use.

All fire extinguishers MUST be kept in excellent and serviceable condition and be readily available in the event of a fire. Fire Extinguishers must not be kept near fire sources on your boat.

If you put a gas powered motor on your boat whether it’s a canoe or small dingy you must meet the less than 26 ft. requirement for on board fire extinguisher.
RUNNING LIGHTS: Running lights are essential for safe boating between sunset and sunrise and are required by law. Sailboats under motor power, whether sails are up or not, are considered a powerboat and must display the appropriate lighting.

Vessels under motor power:

All boats – Box 1 & 2 OR Less than 39 feet 5 Inches (12 meters) Box 1, 2, OR 3

INLAND WATER ONLY: May exhibit an all-around white light aft & sidelights.

Vessels under sail or oar/paddle power:

Under sail power only – Boxes 4,5,6,7

Under sail power only & Under 23 feet in length (7 meters) – If practicable Box 4,5,6 OR 7 used in sufficient time to prevent collision.

Under sail power with oars; Under Oar or Paddle Power – Box 7 used in sufficient time to prevent collision.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION: Within the Inland NW and throughout the country, there is a Lateral System (Federal) of buoys and markers via colors, numbers, shapes, and lights for safe navigation - day or night.

Red buoys are passed on the starboard (right) side of your boat when proceeding up stream or into port (Red Right Returning). Green buoys are passed on the port (left) side of your boat when going down stream or leaving a port. Green buoys are numbered with odd numbers and red with even numbers. Marking the center of a cannel is done with Red & White vertically stripped buoys.

ATTENTION mooring to any federal or state navigation systems buoys or marks is prohibited.

-   Starboard Buoys are red with red fixed or flashing lights.

-   Port Buoys are green with green fixed or flashing lights.

-   Safe Water Buoys are red and white vertical stripes, with flashing lights. Also called approach, Fairway, mid channel buoys.

-   Favored/Preferred/Junction Channel Buoys are red and green horizontal stripes, with flashing light.

-   Special Marks are yellow with fixed or flashing light if it is lighted. Types of usage include regatta marks, dredging, anchorage area, etc.
NAVIGATION RULES: Just like there are rules that govern how you drive your car there are also “Rules of the Road” for boating on the water. All boats 39.5 feet in length (12 meters) and over must carry the current copy of the Coast Guard Navigation Rules International & Inland book on board (good to have on any boat). You can order this book by calling SAIL Marine @ 208-762-7110 with the reference number of 050-012-00287-8.

It is the responsibility of a boater to follow the “Rules of the Road” at all times but special circumstances may merit a boater to deviate from the rules to avoid immediate danger. Negligent operation of a boat will result in heavy fines and more.

Sound Signals – Via the Inland Rules, boats must signal their intentions via whistles and horn signals to alter course. When and if a vessel agrees to the signal, they in turn repeat the signal or give the distress signal via 5 short blasts. Sound signals are not needed if you know for a fact that you are communicating with the vessel via channel 13 and are in agreement to your maneuvers.  Sound signals prevail over radio contact when not in agreement or when unsure of the boat you are in contact with. The following are sound signals that vessels within sight of each other use for safe navigation:

-   One Short Blast (1 sec.): I intend to leave you on my Port side (altering my course to Starboard/Right).

-   Two Short Blasts: I intent to leave you on my Starboard side (altering my course to Port/Left).

-   Three Short Blasts: Vessels engines are in reverse.

-   Five or more Short and Rapid Blasts of a whistle or horn: Danger/Doubt; Used when a vessels course or

     intention is unknown, or dangers are probable etc.

-   Prolonged Blast (4-6 sec.): indicates restricted visibility or maneuverability

-   One Prolonged Blast (4-6) followed by one short blast: request to open drawbridge

Sound Signals in Fog or Restricted Visibility – Prolonged sound blasts in fog or restricted visibility are of a duration of 4-6 seconds and short blasts are 1 second long. A vessel must sound a horn or whistle every two minutes or less in a specific pattern to make their position and type of movement known. The type and pattern of blasts used in fog or restricted visibility depend upon the type of vessel being operated. See chart bellow.

See Horn Signals in above diagram/pic

RULES OF THE ROAD: Meeting or Crossing Situations – When boats are coming head on to each other it is necessary to pass safely by giving your intent of direction (port or starboard). One short blast indicates you will move to Starboard (right) and leave the oncoming boat to Port (left). Two Short Blasts indicate you are moving to Port (Left) and leaving the oncoming boat to Starboard (right). Two blasts also indicate you are operating astern propulsion (a motor). The other boat that has not yet sounded needs to follow up in agreement with the same signal to a make safe passage. If the proposed course is not agreed upon due to safety issues then the boats will take effective action to insure safe passage.

Head On Situation – Each boat should signal with one short blast to move to Starboard and pass each other on Port (Left).

Crossing Situation – In a crossing situation the boat that has the other boat on its starboard shall give-way and the starboard boat (stand-on vessels/the boat that has the right-of-way) shall hold its course until clear of the give-way vessel. Sailboats on Starboard tack (with wind hitting the right side of the boat) have right away over Port (left) tack boats. Boats that have the right-of-way (the stand-on-vessel) must avoid a collision or danger if its clear that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action.

Overtaking – When boats are going the same direction and the boat astern wants to pass the boat ahead, the boat overtaking will give one short blast (move to Starboard) indicating its intent to pass the other vessel on its Starboard (right) side. If the desire is to pass to the Port the over taking vessels will give 2 short blasts (move to Port) and pass the other vessel on its Port (left). In all cases the boat being passed shall reply with the same sound signal or should answer with five short blasts indicating danger, not safe to pass.

Windward versus Leeward - This rule applies to a sailboat passing another sailboat. In a similar situation when two sailboats are converging on each other the Leeward boat (boat down wind) has right-of-way over the Windward boat (boat up wind). The windward boat must let the leeward boat pass when coming into close proximity of each other. Also applies to sailboats on the same tack... such as two sailboats both on starboard, the leeward boat has right away.
Starboard versus Port - Starboard boat has the right away... the wind is hitting the right/starboard side of the boat, thus the boat is on starboard tack. The port tack boat... wind is hitting the left/port side of the boat does not have the right away.

OTHER SITUATIONS: Obviously there are many other situations that boats will encounter which will require other maneuvers. Below are other possible situations:

-   Muscle powered boats have the right-of-way over all other vessels except for large vessels limited by maneuverability and draft and commercial vessels while fishing.

-   Sailboats under sail power have the right-of-way over motor powered vessels at all times except for large vessels limited by maneuverability and draft, commercial vessels while fishing, muscle powered vessels such as kayaks and canoes.

-   Large vessels in narrow channels limited by their draft and maneuverability must not be hampered with by more maneuverable and shallower draft boats.

-   Boats will stay to the starboard (right) side of the channel when not marked by Lateral Aids and when safe to do so.



Boat condition and loading – An operator must make sure that their boat is in excellent condition with no loose bolts, sharp edges, structural weak cracks, etc. Before towing your boat make sure the overall weight of your boat with trailer and gear does not exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle. Caution – When trailering your stopping distance will be increased, as well as the time it takes to pass. When going around corners your turning radius will increase due to over all length of the vehicle and trailer.

Trailer Types - First you must have the correct trailer for your boat type, i.e. sailboat trailers for sailboats, etc. The right trailer should support the boat structurally from bow to stern with the weight of the boat equally distributed. Hull rollers, cradles, and bolsters must be kept in good condition to protect the hull from damage. Note - If you load your boat with gear, etc. you also need to make sure it is equally distributed as well so as not to over load the tongue of the trailer and or the trailer wheels. All trailers should have capacity plates; so make sure your boat does not exceed the capacity of the trailer which includes the additional weight of your gear and motor. If a capacity plate is not visible call or stop by a trailer manufacturer to determine if the trailer is right for your boats weight, etc.

Tongue & Chains - Make sure you follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for your trailer tongue coupling process. It is imperative that you properly connect your trailer to your hitch and have the right ball size for the coupler. It is also the law to cross the safety chains when connecting them to your vehicle.

Tie downs - Ropes, and Lower motor supports must all be in place to ensure the boat is not bouncing or slipping off the trailer. Tie downs are an excellent choice to tie your boat down to the trailer but beware of low strength straps and ratchets as the cheap kinds are likely to fail. Tying down your boat with ropes is also a good choice so long as you know how to tie superb knots and the ropes are of sufficient strength. If your boat has a bow eye make sure it is secured to the trailer. Additional straps/ropes may be needed to secure your motor and rigging.

Capacity - Before towing your boat make sure the overall weight of your boat with trailer and gear does not exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle. The towing capacity of your vehicle must include the weight of the people in the vehicle plus the weight of the gear in your vehicle. Contact the vehicle manufacturer for correct capacity information related to not only the motor but also to the transmission, brakes, etc. Depending on your vehicle a load bearing hitch and larger cooling system may need to be added to your vehicle.

The boat should never be over loaded or have more people on board than the capacity plate indicates is appropriate for the vessel. If your boat has no capacity plate then the following formula must apply for calm waters: Maximum # of People = length (feet) of Boat X width/15, assuming that each person weighs about 150 lbs. Adjustments should be made if this assumption is incorrect.

On the Road – Before going on the road with your boat you should first check your brakes and determine how long it would take to stop quickly. The best place to check the brakes is in a big parking lot or low traveled back road. Drive and progressively go faster (in a safe manner), stopping at various speeds to determine your stopping distances. During this time you can check to make sure you have proper mirrors to see down each side of the boat. If not, purchase the proper mirrors before hitting the road. There are many simple mirror extensions available. Also check and make sure all your lights work, particularly your brake lights. Make sure your ball and coupler are the same size and that the bolts and washers are tight. Make sure your ball is completely covered by the Coupler and is locked in place. Too much weight on the rear of the trailer can make you fish tail and too much weight on the hitch can make steering difficult, and so on. And finally make sure to attach and crisis-cross the Safety Chains so that if the trailer were to break free from you vehicle, the trailer would still pull straight behind your vehicle until you can safely stop and the coupler would not drag on the road. Regularly check tires for proper inflation and bearings each time they are immersed in the water.

Caution in towing – When trailering your stopping distance will be increased, as well as time to pass. When going around corners your turning radius will increase due to over all length of the vehicle and trailer.

LAUNCHING: Wait your turn, it is a first come first serve kind of thing... Prepare boat in the parking lot before you back down the ramp.  This includes installing transom plug, raising Bimini top, loading gear, placing fenders, readying dock lines, checking fuel, finding key and turning on battery switch. Do all this in advance to take the least amount of time at the bottom of the ramp.

Before getting in position to launch your boat down the ramp check the boat for the following:

-   Make sure all wanted gear is in the boat.

-   Check for damage caused while trailering.

-   Raise your motor or lower unit to make sure it does not drag while launching. Sailboats – rig and step mast before entering launch ramp. If you can not step the mast before going into the water, move your boat out of the way of the launch area while in the water to step the mast in a safe calm area.

-   If applicable, sailors extend your extendable tongue on level ground before backing down a ramp.

-   Remove tie downs/ropes/straps and make sure bow eye is still attached to trailer via strap/rope before launching.

-   Make sure bow and stern lines are attached to the boat so that once the boat leaves the trailer you can easily handle the boat.

-   Check the boat launch for length of paved launch pad (if present) and drop offs, boulders, etc. If it’s a cold time of  the year check for ice. An icy boat launch can be near impossible to retrieve a boat from as boat launches tend to be  a little slippery in the first place due to marine biological build up, and the steepness of some boat launches. Make sure you have snow chains as 4 wheel drive will not guarantee traction.

-   Once everything has been checked twice or more it is best to have one person in the boat and another person beside the boat guiding the driver down the ramp. If you are solo launching then extra caution and a slow descent down the ramp is appropriate. It’s a good idea to check the boat a couple of times when soloing down the ramp to insure its not slipping off the trailer, etc. Don’t let other inpatient boaters push you into hurrying and making mistakes.

-   It is best but not always possible to keep rear wheels and exhaust pipe out of the water. If the exhaust pipes become immersed the vehicle could stall.

-   Unplug your lights from your vehicle. This allows the lights to cool before going into cold water. Hot light bulbs immersed in cold water will die! This may not apply to LED lights.

-   When stopped set the parking brake and put tire chocks in place.

-   Insure that someone on shore is holding the boat in place via the bow and stern lines. Letting one line or the other loose could result in one end of the boat swinging out from the dock blocking the ramp and creating possible risk to the boat and individuals. When launching solo, slowly back your boat into the water and as soon as it starts to float (not actually floating off the trailer totally) walk your boat off the trailer to a position that is out of the way of other boats as much as possible.

-   Lower the motor and prepare to start the engine. Check for fuel leaks, other issues, and run the blowers. Sailors make sure all your necessary rigging, sails, gear, etc. is on board.

-   Start the motor and make sure the water is coming out of the cooling exhaust, which indicates the cooling system is working.


-   Release the winch hook from the boat and walk the boat to the end of the ramp out of the way from boats launching and returning.

LOADING: When retrieving the boat back onto your trailer reverse steps of launching your boat. Move your boat up toward the ramp, raise your motor (on sailboats - raise your boards/keel and be sure all lines are on board. Sailors, also make sure your sails are down and secured to your boat or stored). Secure the boat to the trailer at the bow winch and attach straps and lines as appropriate. Drive the boat and trailer to the launch parking area to further secure the boat to the trailer, de-rig, clean up, check for invasive plant and aquatic life, and go through safety check list. It is best to practice readying and launching your boat at your home prior to actually launching. For new sailors it is particularly important to practice rigging your boat before truly launching the boat. Safety should be your main concern.

Before traveling down the road check your boat, trailer, and even your vehicle for milfoil weeds, plants, small snails and/or crabs, etc. - There are many types of invasive weeds and animals that may hitch a ride, so make sure to clear off all such items. Some boat launches now have a place where you can wash your boat, etc. to rid it of any weeds and critters. Washington State is getting tough on boaters who do not check their boats with a fine or even jail time.

STORING: Cover the boat via a tarp or shirk wrap it. Also put blocks under the tongue and four corners of the trailer to take pressure off the wheels. Sailors should store their sails in a dry area and not leave them on the boat during the winter and wet weather.

Power lines can potentially pose a threat to life and limb if you do not keep from contacting them. Sailboats as well as boats with long antennas can contact a power line sending high voltage through the boat and potentially through you. Most boat launches have no power lines over them, but some do. Private boat launches in particular do not have to meet state and federal requirements so the potential for over head power lines is common. Make sure to always check for power lines especially if you are launching a sailboat. Never assume that electrical lines are not present even if you can not see any, as lines can sometimes be hidden in tree limbs and other locations not easily seen. Watch for unauthorized power lines around private docks. Also be aware of power lines under bridges and across channels. In any case be safe by staying alert to potential power lines issues.

EMERGENCY CONTACTS... Sheriff Marine Dept. and USCG Aux Fleets


State of Idaho Parks and Recreation

Idaho Bureau of Land Management

Benewah Sheriff (L. Coeur d’Alene, Heyburn St. Park, St. Maries & Plummer) 208-245-2555

Boundary Sheriff (McArthur Lake, Kootenai River, Bonners Ferry)

Bonner Sheriff (Pend Oreille Lake & River, City of Sandpoint)

208-263-8417 ext. 257 -

Clearwater Sheriff (Dworshak Res., Clear Water River, Orofino)

Kootenai Sheriff (Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, Spokane & CdA Rivers)

208-446-2250 or 208-446-1300

Kootenai County Parks, Recreation and Waterways

Latah Sheriff (Moose Creek & Spring Valley/Reservoirs, Moscow and Potlatch). No Marine Division. 208-882-2216

Nez Perce Sheriff (Lewiston, Snake, Clearwater Rivers, Lewiston). No Marine Division

Shoshone Sheriff (Coeur d’Alene & St. Joe Rivers, Kellogg & Wallace) No Marine Division. 208-556-1114 This county has no marine patrol.

US Coast Guard Auxillary

District 8 Eastern WA., North Idaho, & Western Montana:

Coeur d’Alene Floatilla 84, 208-765-9668 (Kathy Goodwin); meets 2nd Fri. of ea. month.

Sandpoint Flotilla 87, 208-667-9377 (Mike Mattie) meets 2nd Thu. of ea. month.


Washington State Parks and Recreation

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

Adams Sheriff (Sprague & 4th of July Lakes, Ritzville & Othello). No Marine Division

Chelan Sheriff, 401 Washington St., Lower Level 1, Wenatchee, WA 98801. 509-667-6851

Douglas Sheriff (Columbia River, E. Wenatchee, Bridgeport) 509-884-0941 / 509-884-1535

Franklin Sheriff (Columbia & Snake Rivers, Pasco)

Grant Sheriff (Coulee Dam, Columbia R., Pot Holes Res., Moses, Banks, Sun L.) 800-572-0119 ext 468 or 509-754-2011 ext 468

Lincoln Sheriff (L. Roosevelt, Spokane, Sprague, Fishtrap Lakes) 509-725-3501 / Sprague 509-725-3501

Pend Oreille Sheriff (Pend Oreille R., Diamond & Sullivan Lakes) 509-447-3151 or 800-669-3407

Spokane Sheriff, Marine Enforcement Division. W.1121 Gardner. Spokane, WA 99201. (Spokane R. & Lake, Liberty & Newman Lakes) 509-477-7607

 (N. area of Lake Roosevelt & N. side of Spokane Lake). No info at this time.

Stevens Sheriff (L. Roosevelt, Spokane, Deer, & Loon L, Spokane R., Colville) 509-684-5296

Whitman Sheriff (Rock Lake & Snake River, Colfax & Pullman). 509-397-6266

US Coast Guard Auxillary

USCG Recruiting Office E. 11516A Sprague Spokane WA. 509-927-0993

District 8 Eastern WA., North Idaho, & Western Montana:

North Spokane Flotilla 81: 509-326-1295 / email

Spokane Valley Flotilla 82: 509-710-0998

Tri-Cities Fleet 85: 509-543-4959 or 509-628-4855

U.S. Coast Guard Recruiting Office. 11516-A E. Sprague St., Spokane, WA 99206: (509) 927-0993

Spokane Sail & Power Squadron, A Unit of U. S. Power Squadrons
929 W. Jackson, Spokane, WA 99205: 509-328-6165 or 509-324-3588


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks or

Flathead Sheriff (N. end of Flathead L, Whitefish L.) 800 South Main Street, Kalispell, MT 59901. 406) 758-5585

Lakes Sheriff (Mid & S. end of Flathead L.) 106 4th Ave E. Polson, MT 59860. 406-883-7301 /

Lincoln/Libby Sheriff (Koocanusa & Bull Lakes, Kootenai River, Libby). No Marine Division. 406-293-4112

Mineral Sheriff (Bitterroot River. Lots of Alpine Lakes, St. Regis). No Marine Division. 406-822-3555

Missoula Sheriff (Placid, Salmon, Seeley, Lindbergh Lakes, Missoula). No Marine Division. 406-258-4810

Sanders Sheriff (Noxon & Cabinet Gorge Res., Clark Fork R., Thompson Falls). No Marine Division. 406-827-3584, 406-827-4171

Coast Guard Aux.


District 8 Eastern WA., North Idaho, & Western Montana:

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