Boating Enforcement Unit


Boating Enforcement Unit Policies in Focus 

The Kings County Sheriff’s Office Boating Safety Unit has the primary responsibility for the enforcement of laws and regulations relating to the operation of watercraft within the County of Kings. The unit patrols the areas of the Kings River. More specifically the unit enforces the California Harbors and Navigation Code, California Code of Regulations Title 14, Federal Code of Regulations 33 USC, and those provisions of the Kings County Ordinances that relate to water-born activities and related areas. The unit enforces these provisions by means of patrol vessel, vehicle and foot patrol.

The boating unit currently has three patrol vessels and two personal watercraft that are used for patrol and rescue operations. The vessels are completely equipped with navigation radar, depth finder and communication radio and rescue equipment. The vessels can accommodate up to eight passengers with room in the center of the cockpit for a medical board. 

The unit’s goal is to educate the public on water safety. The boating unit utilizes "The Aqua Smart Program" which is one of the most current and up to date water safety programs in the state. The State department of boating and waterways developed the program and it has been in use since 1992.

The water safety program can be presented to children and young adults in their class room (grades K-8). The unit is also available to give presentations that would include Boating Laws and water safety pertaining to all age groups.

The Boating units patrol function is to promote a safe boating experience for all involved. While on patrol the Deputies conduct inspections on vessels for required equipment and registration.

Following is summary of the required equipment and some of the rules and regulations applicable to most boaters on the river of Kings County. It is by no means a complete list, however it is indicative of the laws most commonly violated and/or misunderstood.


1. CERTIFICATE OF NUMBERS (current and properly displayed registration) 


  • One for each person onboard
  • Must be appropriate size
  • Must be in serviceable condition
  • Must be readily accessible
  • Must be USCG approved
  • Boats 16’ and over must have at least One Type IV PFD that is immediately accessible
  • Children under the age of 12 must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when aboard and underway vessel 26ft. in length or less.  Exceptions: on a sailboat, if the child is in an enclosed cabin, or restrained by a harness tethered to the vessel.


  • Must be marine type
  • Must be in serviceable condition (charged)
  • Must be USCG approved
  • Must be readily accessible
  • Vessels less than 26’ – 1 size B-1
  • Vessels 26’ or larger require size B-11 or 2 B-14. 


  • Bell, horn, whistle or other device capable of making an efficient sound signal. 
  • Required on in-board gas motors which are not exposed to atmosphere above the gunwale. 
  • An effective muffling system is required for the exhaust for every engine.



  • Must be red or orange, at least 12" x 12", square or rectangle.
  • Must be displayed under the following circumstances: 
    • A down skier.
    • Skier in water preparing to ski.
    • A ski line in water.
    • A ski or ski device in water near boat.


  • Three people are required for water skiing.
  • Observer must be at least 12 years of age.


  • OPERATOR AGE-----All operators must be at least 16 years of age, except:
    • Vessels with 15 hp or less.
    • 12 to 15 years old may operate with an 18 year old adult who is onboard and supervising the operation of the vessel.


1. RIVER PATTERN: Counter clockwise on Kings River. 

  • No Wake Zone: No wakes allowed/ 5MPH max. speed limit. 
  • 5-MPH speed limit within 100 feet of swimmer, 200 feet of swim beach, swim float, docks or boat ramps. 
3. NAVIGATIONAL LIGHTS: Navigational lights required between sunset and sunrise. 

4. BOW RIDING: Riding on the BOW, GUNWALE, OR TRANSOM is prohibited. 

5. RECKLESS VESSEL OPERATION: Reckless or negligent operation of any vessel is prohibited. 

6. BOATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Operating a vessel or skiing under the influence with a blood/alcohol content of .08% or more is prohibited. 

7. MOVING VIOLATIONS:  Any person convicted of one moving violation while operating a vessel shall be ordered by the court to complete and pass a boating safety course approved by the Department of Boating a Waterways.


California Vehicle Code:  21116(a) No Driving on Levee.



  • Ordinance 23-24: No person shall operate any vehicle within the Kings River-Bed.
  • Ordinance 549 Weirs: No person, vehicle, or vessel is to come within 300 feet of any Kings County River Weir from May 15th through Labor Day.


The Sheriff's Boating Unit promotes a better public awareness in the safe use of watercraft and the potential danger in the unsupervised use of water related activities (with special attention given to small children and young adults). The main objective is educating the public in water safety.

Additional Links of Interest:


For any questions regarding the Kings County Sheriff's Water Rescue, contact:

Kings County Sheriff's Office
Commander Rick Bradford

1444 West Lacey Blvd. 
Hanford, CA 93230 
(559) 852-2819