The roar of the engine shook the 22-foot Heliarc boat to life as it prepared to head out for its first day patrolling the Mokelumne River and the Lodi Lake area.
Along with Sgt. Carey Pehl of the Sheriff's Department Boating Safety Unit, Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors, or STARS, volunteer Dan Seay revved the throttle and his partner, Eva Loftus, adjusted her life jacket as the boat took off from the loading dock.
The Heliarc, acquired by the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department through a Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office program, will help Sheriff's officers and STARS volunteers better patrol waters throughout the Delta region.
According to Pehl, the boat had rotted floor boards and the roof was in bad shape when it was acquired. But the hull and the engine were in good shape.
So good, Pehl said, that when the boat was taken in for an inspection, the mechanic looking at the Heliarc said it appeared as if the engine had not even been fully run in.
Through generous donations — roughly $8,000 — the boat is now ready to go. It has a 50- to 70-gallon tank and can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour.
But do not expect the boat to be speeding up the Mokelumne River that fast any time soon.
In fact, the boat must be driven according to speed limit laws on the river — 5 miles within a certain distance of a swimmer or a swim area, for example.
Even with the requirement to go slow or idle in certain areas, the boat provides a great service to those who use or live along the river, Pehl said. Residents have thanked the seargent, his unit and the volunteers for patrolling the river and Lodi Lake.
And in turn, those who patrol like doing their job, even if it gets extremely hot.
"Any day on the water is a great day," Seay said.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at email@example.com.