Today's lake level: 1071.35
Your complete online news, information, and recreation guide to Lake Lanier
Jun. 5, 2020
4:21 am


Boating safety basics/Task Force prepares for events

By Pamela A. Keene 
What comes first, boat ownership or learning about boating safety? For many of the dozen people who gathered in early June for America’s Boating Club Atlanta’s daylong Basics of Boating class, learning about safety on the water preceded their boat purchase.
“Taking a basic boating class has many benefits, from helping you learn the Rules of the Road to getting a possible discount on your boating insurance,” said Margaret Sherrod, education officer for ACBA. “Taught by our trained members, the class covers quite a bit of material and gives attendees a good overview of responsible boat ownership.” 
ABCA offers the class frequently throughout the year for $20 per person. Participants can purchase the accompanying 270-page full-color text for an additional $20.
“Anyone can participate in the class, and in fact we frequently have new and experienced boat owners as well as youngsters around age 12, who are approaching the age to be able to drive jet skis if they have passed an approved boating course or with a supervising adult,” she says. “Whether you’ve boated for years or are just getting your feet wet on the water, you’ll always learn new information and refresh your knowledge.” 
The class is taught by multiple trained members of ABCA in a combination lecture and discussion format. The material is organized and presented via PowerPoint and video, and participants are encouraged to ask questions. Instructors generally have several decades of boating experience on inland lakes, island cruising and even open-water boating and/or sailing.
Here’s what the class covers: boat handling, docking and anchoring; trailering; safety equipment and procedures; navigation basics and “Rules of the Road”; boat types and terminology. “One of the most important Rules of the Road is that both boaters, no matter who thinks they have the right of way, must do everything possible to avoid a collision,” Sherrod said. “On the water, it’s not a matter of who’s in the right; it’s all about safety.”
Know the laws
One of the most overlooked Georgia regulations is the “100-Foot Rule,” which is enforceable by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and local law enforcement entities and could result in a citation and/or a fine. Here’s what it says: 
“No person shall operate any vessel or tow a person or persons on water skis, an aquaplane, a surfboard, or any similar device on the waters of this state at a speed greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel which is moored, anchored, or adrift outside normal traffic channels, or any wharf, dock, pier, piling, bridge structure or abutment, person in the water, or shoreline adjacent to a full-time or part-time residence, public park, public beach, public swimming area, marina, restaurant, or other public use area.” 
ABCA, the Lake Lanier Association and other organizations have developed awareness and outreach campaigns to educate the public about this rule. “Did you know that if your wake causes damage or injury, you as the boater who created the wake can be held liable for those damages or injuries?” said T.J. Convery, one of the course instructors. “I’ve seen cases where boaters have been taken to court and have been found guilty of negligence because of creating a damaging wake.” 
Be prepared 
The class covers what equipment is required on a boat, from visual distress signals and up-to-date fire extinguishers to personal flotation devices and a copy of your boat registration.
“One of the free services that ABCA provides here on Lake Lanier is our voluntary vessel safety checks,” Sherrod said. “We can spend a little time with you on your boat going over the equipment that’s required by law, what is suggested and how to use it. We periodically do these examinations at no charge, and many people say they appreciate our VSCs to make sure they are ready if they’re stopped by the DNR. We even provide a sticker for your boat when you pass.” 
The class is approved by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and by the National Association of the State Boating Law Administrators. Upon successful completion of the class and the written examination, each participate receives a certificate that can be submitted to your insurance carrier and a wallet card that should be carried with you while aboard. 
“Many people, no matter what their level of experience, find that the $20 class fee and the investment of a Saturday more than pays off in increasing their boating knowledge,” Sherrod said. “And when all of us are being as safe as possible on the water, the chance of accidents or drownings can be greatly reduced.” 
For more info about America’s Boating Club Atlanta, educational opportunities or membership, visit
Boating basics refreshers:
Here are some highlights of the Basics of Boating class applicable to Lake Lanier.
  • The 100-Foot Rule: Slow your boat, PWC or vessel to idle speed when you’re within 100 feet of another boat, dock, bridge, or shoreline. 
  • No matter who is the stand-on or give-way vessel, all boaters are required to do everything possible to avoid a collision.
  • Children under age 13 are required to wear a properly fitted life jacket or PFD while on a boat that’s underway. 
  • Check the weather forecast and radar before heading out. Don’t take chances. And anytime you go out on your boat, let a responsible person back on shore know of your plans and anticipated return time.
  • Boating laws can be jurisdictionally specific. Some are federal laws that apply across the United States; others are state or locally applicable.
Upcoming class dates: 
The next Basics of Boating classes will be offered Saturday, August 3, and Saturday August 31. Classes are $20 per person; register online to save $2 per person.
- compiled by Pamela A. Keene

Water Safety Task Force prepares for Lanier July events
Several times each summer, agencies from around Lake Lanier meet to prepare for major holidays and special events on Lake Lanier.
“Safety has always been the top priority for all of us involved with Lake Lanier,” said Tim Rainey, project operations manager at the US Army Corps of Engineers Lake Lanier/Buford Dam office. “Coordination among all the agencies that operate on the lake and in counties adjacent to the lake is crucial to the safety of the more than 12 million visitors who come to the lake annually. When there’s a major holiday or special event, we are all on high alert.” 
In June representatives from fire services, medical and emergency services, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service and law enforcement met at the Corps’ office to prepare of the Fourth of July holiday and the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run. The Poker Run meeting included representatives from Lanier Partners, organizers of the 11-year Pirates of Lanier Poker Run.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority for our event and we have always met with officials in advance of the Poker Run, but this will be the first time that we have actually been included in the Water Safety Task Force Meeting,” said Barkley Geib, president of Lanier Partners. “To have all of the relevant and vital agencies together will help us even better prepare for our event.” Rainey said that the task force meeting with Lanier Partners will allow the group to have a meaningful exchange with all the agencies and to ask questions.
The Water Safety Task Force will also discuss safety plans and procedures for the Fourth of July holiday and the larger crowds expected at the lake for fireworks and large holiday crowds on the water and in parks.  “The objective is to bring everyone together to assure that we are fully prepared,” Rainey said. “There will most likely be 35 to 40 people in the room so that we can touch base with all the agencies and resources around the lake. It is an excellent chance for us to communicate with each other and share information.” 
The group met in May to prepare for Memorial Day and will meet again in August to prepare for Labor Day weekend. 
DNR Law Enforcement Corporal Eddie Tompkins, who regularly patrols Lake Lanier, reiterated the
need for all boaters to wear their life jackets whenever they’re on the water. “You would really be surprised about the number of boats we stop and cite for not having enough life jackets for each person on board,” he said. “It’s so unfortunate when we have to work a drowning because the person wasn’t wearing a life jacket.”

Posted online 6/28/19
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