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Prepare for a Safe Boating Season

Mar 16

Written by:
3/16/2012 9:29 AM  RssIcon

As warm weather returns, boating season begins. Before taking your boat or personal watercraft out for the first time this year, be prepared. Wildlife officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission say a few minutes inspecting equipment and getting familiar with regulations can help you avoid getting a ticket or, even more importantly, help prevent possible injury or hours of distress.

“We’re all anxious to get on the water and have fun,” said Maj. Chris Huebner, state boating safety coordinator. “But first, make sure the right gear is onboard and that everything works, especially if the boat has been in storage. And once you’re out there, be careful as you get into the swing of things. This time of year, air temperatures are warm but water temps are still cool, making hypothermia a real danger if you go overboard.”

Top five boating violations cited by wildlife officers:

1.       Lack of Proper Life Vests Onboard: Probably the most common violation is not having an approved personal flotation device often called life vests or life preservers for everyone onboard or not wearing one when it is required. Children younger than 13 are required by law to wear a life vest whenever they are on a recreational vessel that is under way. The law also requires anyone on or being towed by a personal watercraft (“jet ski”) to wear a life vest. Check your PFDs and throwable flotation devices before you leave home, and replace if necessary.


2.       Improper Vessel Registration: Make sure your registration decal is current and that you have your registration card with you.  If expired, you can renew vessel registrations online at or by phone at 1-800-628-3773, or in person at select wildlife service agents. Information on the procedure needed for title and registration of newly purchased or handmade boats, lost titles or updating owner information is also available on the website.


3.       Too Fast, Too Close: Excessive speed, wake jumping and veering close to other vessels is a sure way to get hurt or hurt someone else. Don’t operate in a reckless or negligent manner. Heed all no wake zones. The “Blue Light = No Wake” law requires any vessel within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel displaying flashing blue lights must slow to a no-wake speed. In narrow channels, the distance is 50 feet.


4.       Lack of Proper Fire Extinguisher: Motorboats including personal watercraft are required to have functioning Coast Guard-approved fire extinguishers onboard, with type of extinguisher and the number of extinguishers depending on the class of vessel. Too often, a boater can’t readily get to an extinguisher, or it has lost its charge, or the craft has an insufficient number of extinguishers, all of which result in a ticket.


5.       An Impaired Operator: Alcohol consumption can prove dangerous for boat operators and passengers. An operator who is appreciably impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs is breaking the law. Exposure to wind and waves, combined with heat, motor noise and vibrations can create a condition known as boater fatigue, in which the effects of alcohol can be magnified up to three times.

2 comment(s) so far...

Re: Prepare for a Safe Boating Season

The state Wildlife does a good job on ramp where people launch boats. I would like to know if a break wall could be built at the ramp area on 258 Roanoke River. When water is coming down this river really fast it makes loading and unloading boats. I have seen boats hit each other and others hitting the rocks near shoreline. The ramp at Williamston was redone for this problem several years ago and it easy to load and unload. Keep up the good work!!!!

By James Bass on   3/21/2012 5:27 PM

Re: Prepare for a Safe Boating Season

Mr. Bass,
Are you referring to Weldon, off N.C. 158? We're trying to figure out what ramp you mean so we can answer your question.


By NCWRC blogger on   3/22/2012 12:34 PM

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