As sun shines, Sheriff's marine unit keeps watchful eye on boaters

Sunshine and warm temperatures created ideal conditions for opening day of the boating season.

It's a time of year that invites fun in the sun but with it comes serious hazards on Puget Sound waterways.

We live in a part of the world where water is never far away---whether it's a lake, the sound or a river.
but playing on or near the water exposes us to risks.

Even on a day of celebration police and sheriff's deputies are reminding people, boaters have the power to reduce those risks.

The King County Sheriff's marine unit's newest patrol boat will turn on a dime, and can respond to a problem at nearly 70 miles an hour.

Sgt. Jim Knauss looks relaxed, but his senses are on high alert.

"Today is one of the first warm days of summer and those are one of the most dangerous days we have in the puget sound area," Knauss said.

His crew spots a violation on Lake Washington.

Two boat passengers are riding on the back near the engine fumes.

If they pass out, or fall off, it's a bad day.

Owner Glenn Schubert admits he knows better.

"It happens. It's the first day. but it won't happen again, though," Schubert said.

King County has responded to seven boating accidents this year--including a kayaking fatality on the Green River.

And they've seen an increase in the number of collisions.

Skills get rusty.

"After you haven't touched the boat controls in a while, when you get back in the boat you need to practice," Knauss said.

On Saturday, the marine unit took along Sheriff John Urquhart--and joined the annual opening day boat parade.

It's about balancing fun---and responsible boating.

"There's gonna be a lot of people out here. There's gonna be alcohol out here. It's the first good weekend of the summer. We just want people to stay safe. Be smart," Urquhart said.

Puget Sound has a strong boating culture--and on a day like this--you can understand why people can't resist the lure of of the water.