Shoring up a safe summer season on Lake Wylie

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comMay 28, 2013 

— Trent Faris and Sgt. Ed Ware spent a recent Friday boating on Lake Wylie, video camera in tow. But it wasn’t entirely a pleasure trip.

Faris and Ware spent time filming a public service announcement for the York County Sheriff’s Office reminding boaters to be cautiouson the water this summer.

“Don’t let a great day out on the lake be ruined by a bad decision,” Faris, public information officer for the department, tells the camera.

Memorial Day kicks boating season into high gear on Lake Wylie. Each year there is a range of lake activities from fishing tournaments to the annual Captain Clueless benefit race to the biggest boating day of the year, Fourth of July.

This year brings special events, too. Lake Wylie Marina is putting on a summer “boat-in” movie series. Lake Wylie Music Fest returns to Boyds Cove June 8 for a “floating fest.” Last weekend, the U.S. Women’s Kayak Polo Team gathered at McDowell Nature Preserve to pick a final roster for their world games.

In Tega Cay, there an effort is under way by the Carolina Show Ski Team to host a regional show ski tournament this summer. Earlier this year, Duke Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved setting up aski dock near Windjammer Park where the team performs during the summer.

Tega Cay City Council talked in closed session last week about a lease with Duke, liability coverage and similar issues needed before an event could be finalized.

“I would anticipate this being back in regular, open session at the (June 17) Council meeting,” said Charlie Funderburk, city manager.

With all the activity on the water during warmer months, law enforcement and groups like the Lake Wylie Marine Commission try to stay ahead. In the video, Faris reminds boaters younger than 16 they need a state approved boating class to operate a vessel in South Carolina, or be with someone 18 or older. Also, life jackets are needed and should fit, lights should work properly and that some rules that apply on the road also ring true on the water.

“Yes, you can be charged with a DUI driving a boat,” Faris said. “It’s called a BUI.”

North Carolina and South Carolina have different rules for operating a vessel, which can be tricky on Lake Wylie where the state line basically runs the center of the lake lengthwise. The marine commission site, lakewyliemarinecommission.com, lists Wylie-specific rules and tips.

There aren’t new rules for this year, but there are concerns. Recent heavy rains washed up tree limbs and other debris, and washed out buoys.

“We have ‘no wake’ buoys scattered all over the lake. We are working on getting them back in place, but it is going to take some time,” said Commissioner Smitty Hanks.

Hanks reminds boaters that all bridges over Lake Wylie are no wake zones.

“It is still a law there is a ‘no wake’ zone under all bridges on Lake Wylie whether there are buoys marking it or not,” he said.

The company that locates buoys for the commission is “swamped” with work on repairs because of high water, Hanks said, so commissioners may put buoys back themselves, which could take more time.

“We have not set any kind of schedule,” he said. “Our goal will probably be July 4, but even that may be optimistic.”

Boater links

Here are helpful links to check out before heading out on Lake Wylie:

lakewyliemarinecommission.com

dnr.sc.gov (South Carolina)

ncwildlife.org (North Carolina)

Duke calls for boating safety

Memorial Day marks the traditional start of the summer recreation season. Duke Energy encourages everyone to practice safety while boating and enjoying other activities on the lakes along the Catawba River.

Each year, thousands of people die or are injured, and millions of dollars of property damage occur because of preventable recreational boating accidents on U.S. waterways.

Everyone can make a difference by knowing and following all state-required safety rules and guidelines for boat operation, and ensuring each boat has the required safety equipment for the number of occupants and activities planned.

Duke Energy reminds people overnight camping, fires, littering, removal of any vegetation and permanent structures are strictly prohibited on any of the lakes’ public recreation access areas, islands or along the shoreline.

“As you make your Memorial Day plans, we remind boating and camping enthusiasts to pick up after their day on the lake, respect the access areas, the islands and their neighbors and enjoy the outdoors safely,” said Scott Jolley, public safety recreation and design project manager for Duke Energy. “Camping is prohibited on the access areas and islands. Help us promote safety and keep these recreational resources clean.”

Please follow these other guidelines while enjoying the lakes:

Parking at public recreation access areas is permitted in marked spaces only. Vehicles and trailers should not park along the highway. Vehicles found in prohibited areas may be towed without prior notice, at the owner’s expense.

Keep the environment safe and clean by leaving no trace of your visit to the lakes. Handle gasoline and oil with care to avoid spills, and please don’t litter.

Always wear a personal floatation device – one should be available for every passenger. Ensure children are wearing the appropriate size.

Remember to stay hydrated, and keep children hydrated. Wearing a flotation device for a long period of time can accelerate dehydration.

Don’t overload a boat. Seats do not indicate capacity.

Keep track of the weather. If caught in rough water, keep low in the boat and head into the waves.

Alcohol and water don’t mix. Alcohol distorts a person’s judgment and slows down reaction time. Don’t mix alcohol with boating or swimming.

Always be attentive on the water, and focus on operating the boat. Remember an accident can happen very quickly. Stay alert for other boaters and skiers.

Use caution upstream and downstream of hydro dams, and observe posted signage.

Carry all the proper equipment including a cell phone, drinking water (to prevent dehydration) and let your friends and family know where you are going and when you will return.

Take advantage of the boating expertise that is available. The Red Cross, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the marine commissions and other organizations offer a variety of safe boating courses. Free boat inspections are also available.

For questions, please call Duke Energy Lake Services at 1-800-443-5193.

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