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The mission of the Marine Services Unit is the promotion of boating safety and the protection of life and property on Lake Sawyer. 

We achieve our mission by providing regular boat patrols of the lake and surrounding shoreline, enforcing state and local laws, answering calls for assistance, giving emergency medical aid, investigating water related accidents, and educating the public in safe boating practices.


Scroll down for further information about the following:

  • Marine Patrol Staffing
  • Mandatory Boater Safety Education
  • Laws
  • Vessels

The City of Black Diamond places a priority on its marine patrol.  All of our officers complete in-house training as well as the Washington State Boating Officers Academy where they receive specific instruction in marine law enforcement.  

A few officers within the unit have received specialized training in the following areas:

  • Boating safety education.
  • Accident Investigation.

The Marine Services Unit promotes boating safety and education in all facets of their work: boating enforcement contacts, educational literature, boating safety inspections, public presentations and special events.

The ability to make direct one-on-one contact with the boating public is a great benefit in terms of promoting boating safety. Currently, all boaters in Washington State age 30 and under are required to take or have taken a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and Washington State approved boating education course to operate a boat with a motor rated over 15 horse power. With an emphasis on boating education before enforcement, our personnel have a wide range of tools to offer the boating public.
Our boating program is mandated by the Washington State Parks and Recreation commission to provide boating education to the public. We meet this requirement through the following:

  • Boating Safety Classes: Please visit  Adventures in Boating – Washington for more information on obtaining your Washington Boater Ed card online.
  • Boating Safety Literature: By developing safety material to hand out during enforcement contacts, we ensure the boating public is informed about the federal, state, and local requirements for boating.
  • Appearances at Public Events
  • Community Presentations: Schools and clubs
  • Media Presentations: Interviews and demonstrations

Adventures in Boating - Washington
The Washington State Parks (NASBLA approved) boating safety course is offered online at Adventures in Boating – Washington.  This course covers general aspects of boating, Washington State law and boating safety. Topics include boating equipment, marine environment, trip planning, boat operations, personal watercraft, emergency preparedness and much more.


Required Vessel Safety Equipment

Personal flotation devices (life jackets) are required in every vessel for each person on board. The life jacket must be of appropriate size, in serviceable condition and readily available. Additionally, vessels 16 feet or longer must also carry a throw-able type IV flotation device. Every child 12 years of age or younger must wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device while on board any vessel, except while in a cabin. Vessels shall also have a fire extinguisher and a sound-producing device, such as a horn or whistle.

Vessel Registration

You are required to carry the vessel registration certificate on board at all times. In Washington State, vessel registrations expire every year on June 30. On the First of July, every  boater should have the new validation sticker displayed on the vessel behind the hull numbers.

Speed Limits and Hours of Operation

You may only operate your vessel above 5 m.p.h. during designated times on Lake Sawyer. Vessels may exceed the 5 m.p.h. speed limit between the hours of 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays. Speeds of 5 m.p.h. or less (no wake) are required when operating within the buoys. The maximum speed limit on Lake Sawyer is 36 m.p.h. providing you are outside the buoys and at least 100 feet from any other vessel.

Direction of Travel

The general direction of travel is counter-clockwise around the lake.

Restricted Areas and Buoys

Certain areas of the lake have been designated as restricted or regulated areas. A visible system of buoys has been installed to identify these areas. Please observe and obey all restrictions and speed limits. It is illegal to move or remove any marker buoy placed by law enforcement. Additionally, it is unlawful to strike or damage a buoy in any way. Marker buoys are not for boat moorage or swimming activities.

Reckless or Negligent Operation

It will be considered reckless to operate a vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug. Boating under the influence (BUI) will be aggressively prosecuted. Negligent operation may include disregard of careful and prudent operation and speeds.

Water Skiing Safety

An observer is required when towing any person on water skis, inner tubes, kneeboards or other water toys. They shall continuously observe the person being towed and immediately display a flag whenever the person is in the water. The flag must be at least a 12-inch square mounted on a 24-inch pole or longer and be either bright red or brilliant orange in color. A life jacket is to be worn by the person being towed.

Personal Watercraft Safety

A life jacket is required for operating personal watercraft such as jet skis and wave runners. No one may operate a personal watercraft without attaching the lanyard to his or her person, clothing or personal flotation device. It is illegal to disable or remove an engine cutoff switch. You must be at least 16 years old to operate a personal watercraft on Lake Sawyer. It cannot be operated after legal sunset or before legal sunrise. It is illegal to operate a personal watercraft in a reckless manner and execute tight 360-degree turns commonly referred to as "spinning donuts". Additionally, you must carry a fire extinguisher and sound signaling device. A personal watercaft must be registered just like an ordinary vessel.

Vessel Inspections

Marine Service officers will make courtesy inspections of vessels both on the water and at the launch facility. Our primary concern is for boating safety and education. If you are a Black Diamond resident and would like to schedule a vessel inspection at your residence, please call the Police Department at (253)631-1012. Upon successful completion, you will be provided with a safety inspection sticker which may save you time getting in the water at the boat launch.

Mandatory Boating Education Card

The Washington State Mandatory Boating Safety Education Law went into effect on January 1, 2008. The new law requires boaters aged 12 years and older to pass a boating safety course or an equivalency exam and to obtain a Boater Education Card before operating a motorized vessel of 15 horsepower or greater. The card requirement is being phased in from 2008 to 2014. 


Currently our police department has the privilege of operating a state of the art, 20’ ProLine Government Series police boat and A Zodiac-style inflatable.  All officers receive specialized training in operating both vessels.     



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