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Your complete online news, information, and recreation guide to Lake Lanier
Jul. 23, 2014
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Safety Guide

A guide to boating and swimming safety resources presented by Lakeside on Lanier


Boater Education Courses with Certification Exam
  • Course: NASBLA certified entry level classroom-only course with test for boater education and PWC certification. Covers basic boating terminology, navigation, operation, legal requirements, emergencies, water etiquette and more.
  • Instructors: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers
  • Minimum age: 12, students 12-15 receive PWC certification
  • When: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Bring sack lunch) July 12, Aug. 16, Sept. 13, Oct. 11
  • Where: U.S. Coast Guard Flotilla 29, 6595 Lights Ferry Rd., Flowery Branch
  • Cost: Individuals $35, family discount  2 or more members $25 each
  • Private lessons also available for groups or organizations outside normal schedule. Contact Pat Lindsay, 770-271-4059.
  • Information/registration:, (770) 217-4059. Pre-registration required. Send email to

Basics of Boating - America's Boating Course
  • Course: NASBLA certified basic boater safety program NASBLA certified basic boater safety program covering boat handing, safety equipment & procedures, navigation, boat types & terminology with exam for certification.
  • Instructors: Atlanta Sail and Power Squadron
  • When: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. August 16, November 8
  • Where: Lake Lanier U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Management Office, 1050 Buford Dam Rd., Buford.
  • Cost: $35, families may share book. Add’l family members sharing book, $15 each
  • Information/registration:;

On-Line Courses

Boater Education Courses without Certification Exam

  • Ladies & Boating: Introduction to boating for ladies only, includes boating trip on lake and instruction in driving, docking, “rules of the road.” Rescheduled from May at Gainesville Marina, 2145 Dawsonville, Hwy., Gainesville. Call to find out new date and time, register with CJ at 770-536-2171.
  • Professional Tutoring: On-line or in person tutoring designed to prepare individuals for exams required for certification and licensure for maritime jobs by instructor Steve Johnson, retired US Coast Guard, experienced ship navigator, deck officer, and USCG license instructor for Sea School.,,  (770) 312-0989.
  • Advanced Boating classes in piloting, marine communications, and other boating skills offered periodically by the Atlanta Sail and Power Squadron. Information:

Vessel Safety Checks

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary certified Vessel Examiners perform safety inspections on recreational boats, personal watercraft and paddle sport vessels. Free.
When/Where: All inspections 9 a.m.-noon unless otherwise noted: Aug. 2 Tidwell Park (Gwinnett), Aug. 5 6 p.m. Bass Pro shop (Gwinnett); Sept. 5 State Patrol Post (Cumming), Sept. 13, Charleston Park (Forsyth), Sept. 14 Old Federal Park (Hall); October 2 10 a.m. Bass Pro Shop (Gwinnett); November 3 10 a.m. State Patrol Post        
Atlanta Sail and Power Squadron offers vessel safety check-ups by appointment.  

Boaters born after Jan. 1, 1998 must take Boater Ed class

The boater education law passed last year by the Georgia General Assembly requires that beginning July 1, 2014,  any person born after Jan. 1, 1998 must complete a boater education course approved by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources before he or she may legally operate a motorized vessel (this includes personal water craft) on Georgia state waters. A person is exempt from the mandatory education requirement if he or she is licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel or operates on a private lake or pond or is a non-resident with proof that he or she has completed a nationally approved boater education course or equivalency exam in another state. Persons younger than 12 may not legally operate a personal water craft. Youngsters age 12 to 15 may legally operate a PWC only if the have passed a DNR-approved boating safety class or are accompanied by a competent adult (age 18 or older who is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and who is carrying proper identification such as a driver's license or government issued identification with a description of the person, photograph and date of birth). 


Swim Lessons/ Aquatics Programs

Frances Meadows Aquatics and Community Center

  • Location: 1545 Community Way, Gainesville.
  • Information/registration: (770) 533-5850,
  • Lessons/Cost: Swimming and water safety program for all ages and levels, age 6 months to masters, basic aquatics safety to skill proficiency for competitive swimmers.  Four 30-minute group lessons available at various times/dates through Aug. 8. City resident $45, non-resident $60. Lifeguard training available.
  • Splash Aquatic Club:  Competitive swimming groups for Rookie (age 4) through Masters (age 18 and older to improve fitness, develop better technique, or train for competition. Gainesville/Hall residents $30-$60, non residents $40-$80.

Cumming Aquatic Center
  • Location: 201 Aquatic Circle, Cumming
  • Information/registration: (770) 781-1781 (register online)
  • Lessons/cost:Swimming and water safety program ranges from toddler-age in Parent Child Aquatics Program to teens and adults in Learn to Swim and Adult Aquatics Program. Private or semi-private lessons available. Fees and schedules vary. Competitive swimming and diving programs, Masters Swim Team also available. Lifeguard certification offered.

Brenau University
  • Location: Brenau Fitness Center, 500 Washington St., SE, Gainesville
  • Information/registration:, Blaire Bachman,
  • (770) 534-6279,
  • Lessons/Cost: Custom private swim lessons for all ages and abilities. Four 30-min. lessons $100; advanced level-four 1-hr. lessons $150. Brenau Masters Swim Team offers practice and competitive program for swimmers of all levels, high school age and older. $60/month.

University of North Georgia Gainesville Campus

Georgia Mountain YMCA

NOTE: Please contact Lakeside on Lanier News to list additional boating and water safety classes.

SAFE RIDER pledge spells out PWC Safety

Driver inattention and ignorance about boating “rules of the road” are chief causes of personal water craft accidents, according to a PWC industry official. The Personal Watercraft Industry Association seeks to reduce PWC mishaps with its nationwide Safe Rider program, which spells out how to responsibly operate the vessels. The organization launched its second annual Safe Rider program this summer to educate users of PWC on safety and asking them to sign a pledge committing to the safe and responsible operation of their vessels. The pledge can be accessed online at or on the front page of  “Our mission is to advocate for a safe and enjoyable experience on any personal watercraft,” said David Dickerson, executive director of PWIA. “Bringing the Safe Rider campaign to PWC users for a second year in a row will help us to continue to reach a larger audience with the message that PWC fun and safety go hand in hand.”  PWIA first launched the Safe Rider program in 2013 with an inaugural on-water event at Port Royale Marina in partnership with state legislators and local businesses. The Safe Rider’s pledge form asks that all PWC riders agree to the take the following steps towards safety and fun on the water:

• Scan the water for hazards and other boats
• Avoid aggressive maneuvers
• Follow local boating laws, including rules to prevent the transfer of invasive species
• Examine your equipment
• React to conditions
• Insist on a safe distance from other boats, swimmers and fixed objects
• Drive sober
• Evaluate weather and waterways
• Respect the environment by avoiding fuel spills and operating close to marine life

Dickerson said that because of the maneuverability of the small vessels, drivers need to scan the water consistently to avoid collisions. He added that simple knowledge of and conformity with rules of the road are also key to preventing PWC accidents. The PWIA website includes information on instructional courses and downloadable safety materials, including a brief handbook titled Riding Rules for Personal Watercraft and PWC Orientation Checklist.can also be found at

Note: Georgia law requires that all children younger than 13 wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device (life jacket) while on board any moving vessel, except when the child is in a fully enclosed cabin. All vessels must have at least one USCG-approved Type I, II, II or V life PRD for each person on board. Type V PFDs are only acceptable when worn and securely fastened. Personal water craft operators and riders must wear an approved PFD that is properly fitted and fastened. Inflatable PFDs are not approved for use on PWCs. See the Georgia Department of Natural Resources “Handbook of Georgia Boating Laws and Responsibilities” for more information on PFDs.

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