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Lake Havasu Adds Another Element To Sober Boating

‘Designated Captain’ Now Part of 2011 Campaign


Eight months ago, the Lake Havasu Marine Association initiated Designated Operator, a grass-roots boating safety campaign to encourage voluntary sobriety on the part of recreational boat operators. Now, another facet for safer boating on one of the Southwest's most popular recreational boating waterways has been added to the local agenda — Designated Captain.

"This is an entirely new and separate program." remarked Jim Salscheider, executive director of the Lake Havasu Marine Association. "Designated Captain is targeting recreational boaters who desire to delegate the responsibility of operating a boat to an experienced, licensed and sober captain."

Ken Samp, owner/operator of Sunset Charters and Tours in Lake Havasu City, is heading up this new program, which is being touted as a significant advancement toward safer boating practices by many local boat-rental facilities.

Captains Pool Established

A pool of qualified, Coast Guard-licensed captains has been established, offering their services on an hourly basis for safe and sober vessel piloting to recreational boaters, both rental and privately owned.

Prospective recreational boaters wanting this service are requested to contact Ken Samp by phone or e-mail to arrange a captain reservation. Samp screens boaters and recommends captains who best suit the individual needs of the boater.

"We don't want boaters hiring just anyone to take the responsibility of operating their boat," commented Salscheider. "If you're going to turn the helm over to someone else, you want to be sure that the person is reliable, experienced and capable. With the Designated Captain program, boaters are assured that their captain for the day is qualified and sober."

For additional information regarding Designated Captain, please contact Captain Ken Samp, (928) 716-8687,,

‘Designated Operator’ Campaign: A Success

According to initial reports from multiple law enforcement agencies who patrol the waters of Lake Havasu, the grass-roots, privately-funded Designated Operator safety campaign is making inroads and a difference with recreational boaters.


During the traditionally busy Memorial Day weekend, Sgt. Jerry Burns of the Lake Havasu City Police was quoted in a local newspaper article, saying, "We've seen a lot of Designated [boat]Operators on the water." Burns also added that he attributed a portion of the increase to the influence of the voluntary sober-boating campaign launched earlier this year by the Lake Havasu Marine Association.

Sgt. Doug Schuster of the Mohave County Sheriff's Office also commented in the same article, “We’ve made a lot of contacts with boaters and we’re seeing a lot of designated operators in place. “It [was] a busy weekend and the crowds [were] up — but not historically as busy as in years past.

Also echoing the sentiments of encountering fewer intoxicated boaters during the long holiday weekend was the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department. Corporal Marc Bracco from the Colorado River Station Marine Enforcement Unit noted only one rental-boat operator was arrested for "boating under the influence" — fewer than in previous years during the same time period.

"We're encouraged by the preliminary reports from in-the-field water enforcement officers," said Jim Salscheider, executive director of the Lake Havasu Marine Association.

DO’s Mission Supported By Many

"Designated Operator's mission is to spread the word that sobriety is imperative whenever you're behind the wheel of a boat. The goal is to reduce the number of impaired boat operators and make our waterways safer and more enjoyable for everyone. With the support and input of our local law enforcement agencies, we're able to monitor the success of this campaign as the boating season progresses. We've just begun, but we're optimistic of making a real difference."

The Lake Havasu "Carry a Designated Operator" campaign is co-sponsored by Romer Beverage Company of Lake Havasu and Teague Custom Marine, Valencia, California.

Supporting agencies and associations include: Arizona Game and Fish, Arizona State Parks, Bureau of Land Management, LakeRacer LLC/Desert Storm, Southern California Marine Association, London Bridge Yacht Club, Mohave County Sheriffs, Lake Havasu City Police, and San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department. Participating restaurants/bars include Pirate Cove Resort, Havasu Springs Resort, Turtle Grille/Nautical Beachfront Resort and Topock 66.

"Carry a designated operator" was founded by the Lake Havasu Marine Association and is responsible for its implementation. More information about Designated Operator is available at

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