A quick scroll through Facebook shows many people for the first time this year preparing to launch watercraft during the upcoming weekend. It may also be the first time people meet a New York Boat Steward. The DEC says they are ramping up the number of blue vest wearing inspectors at launch sites this year.

While the Boat Steward program has been around since 2008, each year the number of deployed inspectors has increased. This year, 211 DEC launch sites will have a person on hand. The program is intended to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic plants and animals from one body of water to another.

While the Stewards have no arresting powers, they do have the right to require your craft to be cleaned at a nearby decontamination site before placing it in the water. It includes boats of all sizes, personal water craft, kayaks, canoes, trailers, and any gear on board. The process is free, but could delay your planned trip. Of course the best way to avoid the process, is to make sure your craft is drained, cleaned, and dried before you head for the water.

The DEC asks you treat the stewards with respect and practice the current state guidelines by wearing a mask and social distancing when interacting with them. Here's more info on the Boat Steward Program, what you're expected to do to help prevent the spread of plants and animals, and a map of locations where Stewards will be deployed.

DEC.gov

Boat Steward Inspecting Boat

DEC.gov

Boat Steward Inspecting Boat

DEC.gov

Boat Steward Inspecting Kayaks

DEC.gov

Boat Being Cleaned at Decontamination Site

DEC.gov

Trailer being cleaned at Decontamination Site

DEC.gov

Boat Being Drained with Invasive Matter on prop

DEC.gov

Cleaning Ropes and Anchors