– Marine Patrol

Welcome to the lakes and bays of Delta County. We hope you will have a safe and enjoyable experience on our County’s waterways.

The Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol shares the responsibility with the Department of Natural Resources to patrol the waters of the county. If an emergency should arise on any waterway, boaters are urged to contact 911. Any other marine-related questions should be addressed to the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol Office at (906) 786-3633 or Marine Radio Channel 16.



Safety equipment for your boat.

Life Preservers (Personal Flotation Devices)

All boats 16′ or larger must have a “wearable” (a Type I, Type II, or Type III PFD designed to be worn) for each person on board. The vessel must also be equipped with a Type IV “throwable” PFD (a device to be thrown to a person overboard). U.S.C.G. approved Type IV PFD’s are of the “ring” or “seat cushion” varieties.

By law, PFD’s must be “readily accessible” and “immediately available”. They may not be stored in plastic bags or zippered pouches (They are of little value if you cannot get to them!). Hand a PFD to each crew member as they board your vessel.

PFD’s must be “serviceable” (if they do not work, they will not save your life). Ensure that all straps, labels, seams and flotation pieces are in good working order. Look at the label and make sure that the PFD is sized for the intended wearer. Remember one “throwable” Floatation device must also be on board in addition to the PFD’s.


Fire Extinguishers

If a vessel of any length is constructed as to trap gasoline vapors, it must be equipped with a U.S.C.G. approved fire extinguisher. Boats less than 26 feet need only one BI fire extinguisher. Boats longer than 26 feet need more BI of BII fire extinguishers. Be safe; you can get a larger one for extra safety. Be sure that it is serviceable and accessible.

Most boat fires happen after refueling. Run the blower and do a sniff test before you re-start the engine. Keep the backfire flame arrester clean.


Registration Numbers

Motorists are given ready-made license plates. We skippers must make our own, which can result in a vessel being improperly numbered.

Any boat that has an electric or gas motor, or any other type of propulsion machinery must be registered. Sailboats 12 feet or over in length must also be registered. Read carefully the list below.

MC 1234 AA

The letters must be block letters at least 3″ high. The letters must read from left to right. The characters must be of a contrasting color to the hull.

3″ spaces must separate prefixes, suffixes, numbers and the registration decal (at the far right).

The characters must be on the forward half of the vessel as high above the water line as practical.

Think of the decal as the “period at the end of the sentence”.


Lights and Horns

Lights are required on motorboats between sunset and sunrise and during periods of low visibility. Anchored motorboats need only display a white aft light. Anchored rowboats need only display a white lantern to prevent a collision.


Horns or approved whistles are required on vessels 16 feet or longer.

Operating your vessel safely

Skiing – Towing anyone on skis or sleds, or any similar contrivance, is fun and requires a team effort. An observer must be on board the tow vessel. The term observer is somewhat misleading. The observer’s real duty is to render aid in case of an emergency.


Capacity Plates are located in the vessel for your safety. Remember, each passenger weighs 150 pounds according to law. You may not exceed either number. Failure to do so might be viewed as “careless operation”.


Slow No Wake Speed is a speed of a vessel which makes a wake or wash that is minimal. Go no faster than this when within 100 feet of any dock, raft, anchored vessel, any bathing beaches or any buoys. Some local laws require this speed in congested areas.


High Speed Boating is a speed where the boat reaches a “planing” condition. Make sure you are in open water to avoid collision. For the fast boats, inland lakes have a 55 MPH speed limit. Violation of this law is reckless operation of a vessel. We have radar!

Personal Watercraft/Jet Skis are relatively new in the waters and are a lot of fun. Some new laws have been recently enacted to make these boats a more safe experience.

  1. PFD’s must be worn.
  2. The kill switch must be connected to the operator.
  3. Do not cross closer than 150 feet behind another boat when jumping its wake.
  4. An operator must be 14 or older. Anyone born after Dec. 31st 1978 must possess a Boating Safety Certificate in order to operate a PWC/Jet Ski.
  5. A PWC/Jet Ski cannot be operated between one hour before sunset and 8:00 A.M.
  6. As with all watercraft, PWC’s/Jet Skis must abide by all “No Wake” restrictions. This includes our harbors and entrances to same. This will be strictly enforced.

Believe it or not, according to the law . . .

  • PFDs cannot be stored in plastic bags.
  • Vessels must go “counterclockwise” around the lake.
  • All boats must stay 200 feet from a diving flag (a red flag with a diagonal white stripe).
  • The operator of a vessel must have the registration on board.
  • “Rubber rafts” must have PFDs on board.
  • Intoxicated vessel operators go to jail in Delta County.
  • You are liable for damage caused by your wake.
  • It is illegal to swim within 100 feet beyond the swim buoys lining a public bathing beach.
  • It is illegal to ride on the side (gunwale) or covered bow of a boat (unless the manufacturer designed the boat for that use).
  • Children 12 to 16 years old must have a boating safety certificate to operate a motorboat of 6 HP or more.

Do you know…

Some insurance companies give lower rates to skippers who complete safety courses.

“Non-use” of PFDs is found in over 80% of drownings.

Wearing PFDs increases your survival chances in a water accident.

If a water or boating accident or emergency happens . . .

If a person is injured, or $2,000 or more in damages is suspected, the appropriate water accident report or a boating accident report must be completed. In Delta County, the following agencies will be happy to assist you.

EMERGENCY dial 911
Delta County Sheriff Department
Marine Patrol: (906) 786-3633

Special Rules for Delta County . . .

Slow, no wake speed from the mouth to the clay banks in the Ford River.

No high speed boating on Camp 7 Lake between the hours of 6:00 P.M. and 10:00 A.M. Slow, no wake speed in the Skeels Lake/Corner Lake Channel.

Slow, no wake speed on the Whitefish River between train bridge and 1800 feet south.

Marine Safety School


 The Delta County Sheriff’s Marine Division administers several water safety courses each summer. The local news media will inform the boating public on the times and locations of the classes. You may also call (906) 786-3633, during regular business hours, for further information.

is also available by calling the
(800) 336-2628


Mileage from theEscanaba Municipal Marina


Sister Bay, WI………………………………….37
Washington Island (Jackson Harbor)…………………..24
Washington Island (Detroit Harbor)…………………..32
Fish Creek, WI………………………………….40
Fayette, MI……………………………………25
Gladstone, MI…………………………………..7
Sturgeon Bay, WI……………………………….69
Menominee, MI………………………………..55
Green Bay, WI………………………………..101

Back to top

You are now leaving Delta County

Delta County provides links to web sites of other organizations in order to provide visitors with certain information. A link does not constitute an endorsement of content, viewpoint, policies, products or services of that web site. Once you link to another web site not maintained by Delta County, you are subject to the terms and conditions of that web site, including but not limited to its privacy policy.  The website will be opened in a new window or tab.

You will be redirected to

Click the link above to continue or CANCEL