Seattle.gov Home Page
Seattle.gov This Department
Business in SeattleLiving in SeattleVisiting SeattleCity ServicesCity Departments
Contact Us at (206) 684-2489, TTY Dial 7 1 1
Seattle Police Department - Home Page
SPD Home / Police Work / Harbor Patrol / Water Safety Tips

HARBOR Patrol - WATER SAFETY TIPS FOR DIVING, SWIMMING and WATERSKIING

Water Safety Harbor Diver

Sgt. Ed Yamamoto performing a diving exercise.

SKIN/SCUBA DIVING

Skin/Scuba Diving (Seattle Municipal Code 16.28.020)

It shall be unlawful to engage in skin/scuba diving in the following areas without written permission from the Chief of Police though the Seattle Police Harbor Commander.

  • In a line from the northwest tip of Harbor Island to the westernmost corner of Smith Cove.
  • Lake Washington Ship Canal
    • From mid-channel buoy in Shilshole Bay to Webster Point.
  • Lake Union
  • Portage Bay
  • Salmon Bay
  • Shilshole Bay Marina
  • Elliott Bay Marina
  • Any established Marina
  • 300 ft from the NOAA facility at Sand Point
  • 300 ft from any ferry slip, public boat ramp, patrolled public beach designated swimming area.
  • 150ft from any pier, dock, float or other shore installation at Seacrest Pier

Anyone engaged in scuba or skin diving must display a dive flag (use of blue and white "Alpha" flag does not satisfy the requirement for a "diver flag").

Diving at Seacrest Park

Scuba diving is not permitted within 150' of the Seacrest fishing pier. An underwater trail has been installed around the pier to help divers identify the restricted area.

HARBOR PATROL SAFETY PUBLICATIONS

Harbor Patrol Guide

HARBOR PATROL Adobe PDF

RULES FOR SWIMMING

Swimming (SMC 16.28.010)

Swimming in all the navigational waters of Seattle shall be prohibited except:

  • A: In designated swimming areas; or
  • B: Within 50ft from shore or a pier; or
  • C: Within 25ft of a vessel
Swimming is prohibited in:
  • Government Locks
  • Montlake Cut
  • Fremont Cut
  • Under any bridge
  • Within the confines of any guide wall
  • Within 300 feet of a ferry slip
  • Within 300 feet of a boat launch ramp

RULES FOR WATER SKIING

Water Skiing (SMC 16.28.030)

Requires two competent persons to be onboard while other persons are water skiing. It shall be unlawful to water ski:

  • Within 200 yards of, or on, the waters of Lake Washington Ship Canal
  • On Lake Union
  • Upon Salmon Bay
  • Upon Portage Bay
  • Upon Shilshole Bay
  • Upon Union Bay
  • 100 yards of shore installation on Lake Washington and adjacent waters
  • From sunset to sunrise

Towing Skiers (SMC 16.20.030)

  • Every vessel towing a person(s) on water skies or other devices must have onboard, in addition to the operator, a person capable of observing the person(s) being towed and reporting their progress to the operator.
  • Other observer must continuously observe the person(s) under tow and display a "skier down" flag whenever the person is in the water after falling or while preparing to ski. The flag must be displayed so that it is visible from all directions.
  • Skiers must wear a Personal Floatation Device.
  • It is illegal to tow a person on water skies or any other devices during the period one hour after sunset until one hour before sunrise.
  • Skiing is not allowed within 100 yards from shore on freshwater, 200 yards from shore on saltwater or on any waters from Webster Point to the Locks.
Skier Down Flag

Washington law requires that's vessels towing person(s) on water skis or similar devices carry and properly display a "skier down" flag whenever the towed person(s) is prepared to ski or has fallen into the water.

 
SPD Badge
SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
Headquarters: 610 5th Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98124-4986
Site Disclaimer: The Seattle Police Department's website was developed to provide general information. Data contained at this location is generally not reviewed for legal sufficiency. SPD documents displayed are for reference purposes only. Their completeness or currency are not guaranteed. Links or references to other information or organizations are for reference only and do not constitute an endorsement.