CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the 2021 summer boating season gets underway and more vessels are being registered, officials say it is vital to know how to boat responsible in order to keep everyone safe.
Officers with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Lake Patrol provide boaters a few reminders ahead of the season including to always check out your boat before you put it in the water, review the contents of your boat for the proper safety equipment, and to remember you be must at “no wake” speed anytime you are within 150 feet of dock, bridge, pier, etc.
Officers say with most boats having been left in storage for the winter, boaters should inspect their vessels to ensure everything is in place and working before that first trip out on the lake.
Safety equipment including navigation lights, gauges, tilt controls, horn, bilge pumps and other accessories should be checked, and there should be the same amount of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) on board per person, according to a news release.
Officers say boaters should also be operating at a “no wake” speed whenever they are within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel that is displaying a flashing blue light.
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office 1 st Sgt. Richard Calhoun says, “We are excited about the upcoming lake season and are looking forward to interacting with all the great people of Lincoln County on our beautiful Lake Norman. First and foremost, our primary goal is promoting the safety and well-being of every person that visits Lake Norman.”
Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission urge the public to make safety a top priority when out on the water this summer, as there has been a surge in vessel registrations.
Officials report a 13 percent increase in vessel registration between May and December 2020 and a 10 percent increase in vessel registrations during the first four months of 2021.
“We’ve seen an increase in activity at our boat access areas since COVID restrictions were issued last year,” stated Captain Brandon Jones of the Wildlife Commission. “People are choosing to recreate outdoors and that means our state’s waterways are likely to be more crowded.”
Officials say with more boaters on the water this year, new and novice boaters are asked to take the following precautions:
- Wear a Coast Guard-approved Personal Floatation Device at all times.
- Appoint a designated driver.
- Assign an adult to actively supervise children in and around the water at all times.
- Swim only in designated areas.
- Rescue those struggling in the water by throwing out a flotation device or something to grab onto, but do not jump in to save someone.
- Attend a boater safety course (Anyone born after January 1st, 1988 must complete an approved course before driving any vessel propelled by a motor of 10 HP or greater).
Officials say following these tips will keep everyone safe on the water, and remind boaters to also protect our waterways by cleaning equipment of all aquatic plants, animals, and mud, drain water from boats after use, dry all equipment, and never move fish, plants, or other water organisms.
Officials offer these boater tips with National Safe Boating Week right around the corner from May 22nd through May 28th.