Boater safety emphasized as holiday weekend approaches

Local News

THUNDERBOLT, Ga. (WSAV) – For many, the end of this workweek marks the unofficial start of summer. Thousands of boaters are expected to take to the water to celebrate and enjoy Memorial Day Weekend.

Chatham County’s Marine Patrol is urging boaters to be prepared just two days before the long holiday weekend gets started. There were 30,000 registered boats in Chatham County at the last tally three years ago, and many of those boats are expected to be out and about on the waterways at some point during the holiday weekend.

That’s why every marine patrol officer will be putting in long hours.

Officers say they are not on patrol to hamper fun on the water. They say safety is the foundation for every stop they make.

They have more than 630 square miles of waterways to patrol from the Savannah River down to Richmond Hill. Marine officers will be on the lookout for boaters without life jackets, fire extinguishers, and especially anyone who is operating a boat under the influence.

“The limit for a BUI is the Same as a DUI up on the streets. It’s .08 for anyone over the age of 21. It’s .02 for anyone under the age of 21,” said  Sgt. Daniel Walker with Chatham Marine Patrol. “It’s all hands on deck this weekend, so every one of the marine patrol officers and Georgia Department of Natural Resources will be out here working.”

Walker also urges anyone taking a boat trip over the holiday weekend or anytime to leave a float plan, letting someone know their destinations, the number of people, and the expected return time.

The sergeant says they’ve just been advised the U.S. Coast Guard now has a float plan app that can be filed with them and he’s encouraging all boaters to get it.  

Other important boating safety advice:

*Remember to have life vests for everyone onboard
*Boats must also have a fire extinguisher 
*Be sure you have working navigational lights
*Marine Patrol offers free boater safety courses

Check out Chatham County Marine Patrol on Facebook for more information on boater safety courses.

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