Boaters now getting tickets for violating new "no wake" zone on Anclote River

Signs went up about a month ago

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - By noon Monday, rows of trailers sat empty, their boats already crowding the Anclote River.

One of them kept an eye on all the others.

"We've spent an awful lot of time in this area doing exactly what we're doing today," explained Pasco Sheriff's Office Marine Unit Cpl. Mike LaRoche.

Cpl. LaRoche patrolled the busy section of river on Labor Day, asking boaters a lot of questions about life jackets, registration and other safety devices like noisemakers.

"My biggest pet peeve is, if you had a problem out here, and you can't alert somebody of your presence," he told one boater.

All of the boats Cpl. LaRoche stopped, however, failed the quiz before he asked the first question.

"They're definitely seeing the signs," Cpl. LaRoche said, referring to new "No Wake" zone signs nearby.

About a month ago, the signs went up alerting boaters of the brand new zone requiring idle speed in the same water where Cpt. Mike Billiris died in August 2010 after crashing into another boat, then veering into these mangroves.

"Now, we're just going to try to spend as much time as we can up in this area to ensure that we don't have a recurrence of what happened three years ago," Cpl. LaRoche said.

He mostly wrote warnings Monday afternoon, but Cpl. LaRoche and his team have started writing citations for violating the no-wake zone, one of which costs $72. He wrote 13 warnings and three tickets.

Though Labor Day's boat traffic is only second to July 4, making it particularly dangerous in the clogged Anclote artery, Cpl. LaRoche plans to continue his patrols long after the holiday.

"Trying to slow the boats down and avoid any future fatalities and or accidents," he said.

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