Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer boating season. With warmer temperatures and folks itching to get out after two months of quarantine, a day on the water is a perfect cure for any lingering springtime blues.
N.C. Wildlife Officer Sgt. Kyle Young said now is also the right time to think about boating safety. Young’s patrol area includes waterways and lakes in Moore and Richmond counties.
“We’ve had some pretty serious boating accidents in the past few years. We are trying to prevent some of those serious incidents in the future,” he said.
Because of the COVID-19 threat, N.C. Wildlife has postponed in-person boating education courses; however, information about online safety course options is available at www.ncwildlife.org/boating
Last year there were 132 boating incidents recorded in North Carolina, Young said, including 14 boating-related fatalities. Thus far in 2020, there have been five deaths.
“We encourage folks to have a sober operator. About one-third of accidents that we investigate end up having an impaired operator,” he said. “Also children under the age of 13 years must wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while the boat is underway.”
The penalties for operating a boat while under the influence (BUI) can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and potential jail time.
“Make sure you have all necessary boating safety items with you before you leave home.
Always run your navigation lights at night. Be a courteous boat operator and watch your wake,” Young said. “A large wake can damage other vessels, docks, and erode the shoreline.”