Posted Online: April 15, 2014, 7:27 pm

Keeping that boat registration current

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It's amazing the things you find while you're waxing your boat. For me it was the orange sticker with the large "14" on it.

That's the only warning boat owners are going to get. As was the case last year, the Department of Natural Resources is not sending reminders to boaters whose stickers are expiring this year. You have to look at your sticker to see when it's expiring.

I thought back about what it was going to cost me. When we first started boating more than 40 years ago, I think the registration was about $20; then after quite a few years it went to something around $40. I think three years ago it had climbed to about $90 year.

Oh well, it goes to a good cause – launching ramps and sewer pump out stations. The first thing I noticed last week when I tried to get into the website to renew by registration was that I couldn't find the website. After about a half-hour of hunting around, I stumbled on one of the preliminary sites, which said that the stickers hadn't arrived yet and they would be mailed as soon as they arrived.

On Tuesday I went back to where I had found the note and the warning was no longer there. Apparently the stickers had arrived. Now all I had to do was search for the form to renew my registration.

The first one was a no-go, as were two or three of the sites that led off of that one. I kept clicking on sites that said anything about registrations until finally I found one that looked possible. I finally ended up at a site that was for registering snowmobiles and watercraft. But, as soon as I entered our registration number, I got a screen with a lot of red printing on it. I was advised to enter a valid number. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the "JD" at the end wasn't on the form. However as many times as I tried to enter it, nothing happened. Then I realized they must not have consider the "IL" as being part of the number. As soon as I erased that, the computer was happy.

Then it wanted the first six numbers of our hull identification number and the first three letters of our last name. After getting those, it asked how I wanted to pay. When I clicked on the credit car, it told me how much they were going to be hitting it for -- $150 plus a $2.50 convenience fee for submitting it so no human would have to touch it.

At least the new stickers are ordered and I won't have to be worried about it not arriving before the June 30 deadline. I hope.

Non-powered watercraft – canoes, kayaks, jon boats, etc. – no longer have to be registered, but owners must pay for a water usage stamp, which is a lot cheaper, $6 for the first three craft and $3 each after that. Looks like a good deal, but I think our boat is a little heavy to paddle. However if you see us out in Lake Potter and my wife, Judy, and I sitting on the swim platform paddling like mad, you'll know we're saving $152.50.

Jack Tumbleson is a retired copy editor for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus and a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He can be reached by email at jack@qconline.com or be telephone at (309) 786-5980.