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      Houghton County Marine Patrol is a small team with a big task

      Houghton County Sheriff's Marine Patrol covers the Portage Canal up to Calumet Waterworks, Big Traverse Bay, and down to Ontonagon, and it's covered by just one deputy.

      Deputy Doug Hebner works five to seven days a week for eight hours a day patrolling the waters of Houghton County ensuring boater safety.

      He said though most of his shift is spent on the water, it's not always as relaxing as one might think.

      â??There are distresses, boater distresses, people that need help out there. We're willing to give a hand,â?? he said. â??We do tow quite a few boats in each year. When you're out on the water, it's not like being stranded on the side of the road where you can call a tow truck. We are the tow truck.â??

      Hebner said he's mostly looking for valid boat registration displayed and enough life jackets for each person on a boat.

      He said he gives out more warnings to people than anything, though citations are given when necessary, and rarely gets into another boat.

      â??A lot of people on the water may not know, but you have to carry your registration with you,â?? Hebner said. â??Just by having your MC numbers valid on your boat is not exactly up to Michigan law.â??

      And he said it's a pretty tame area, and most people tend to be helpful and cooperative.

      â??You don't have to worry if you see me coming to pull up a little bit closer,â?? he explained. â??What I'm looking for is, I'm looking for your registration. I can see that if you're valid, everything looks good and you're valid, I don't need to approach your boat every time. We're not out there to harass the public.â??

      Hebner said he views his job as a service to the public, keeping boater safety the top priority.

      â??We're not out to harass anybody,â?? said Hebner. â??Everybody is trying to enjoy the water, have a good day on the water. We're out there to make sure that everybody stays safe.â??