checklist for the boat
While Boating Wedowee is known for its beautiful lakes and rivers and many people take advantage of enjoying the waterways each year. In the coming weeks more people will be pulling out their boats from winter storage in preparation for summer getaways on the water. We’ve reached out to Coty Brown of the Alabama State Troopers - boat patrol division for suggestions, preventative pointers, common issues on the water, which can contribute to your boating safety and add to your boating pleasure. “A lot of times I am asked does the law require you to have line tied to the throwable,” Brown said. “The answer is no. It’s a smart idea to add some on there just in case, but you will not be cited for not having it on there. “ I’m also always asked about a paddle. This is also not a requirement by law, but always remember the old saying. You definitely don’t want to be up the creek without one.”
Preventative Pointers and Tips:
The best way to avoid me is to obey all safety regulations and laws on the water way. Treat the water way as if it was a roadway and stay to the right of mid channel at all times. Always be aware of your surroundings and be courteous to other boaters.
Most Common Issue on the water:
There are several different issues that have come up in the past few years. It’s hard to say which one is the most common so I’ll just touch base on a few different subjects. People riding with their hips above the gunwales of the boat. I’m seeing a huge issue with people laying on the back cushions of ski boats. If something happens and these people fall off it can possibly be fatal for these people. Also on pontoon boats as well. You have to be seated down inside the boat when it’s in motion at all time. Also when in pontoon boats make sure that you’re inside the railing as the boat is in motion. Underage people operating vessels without a license: Alabama requires that its residents possess a valid vessel license to operate on the waterways in Alabama. A person at the age of 12-13 may get a license but cannot operate unless they have someone at the age of 21 or above with a valid vessel licenses on board with them.
Fourteen and above can operate a vessel in Alabama by themselves with a valid vessel license. Out of state residents may operate on the water ways in Alabama for a total of 45 days with a VALID DRIVERS LICENSE without possessing a vessel license through Alabama. Learners permits are not considered a valid driver’s license. People under the age of 16 from Georgia must take the Georgia boating test before they can operate by themselves in Alabama. They will be issued a card after they complete the test successfully, and they have to have this card with them as they operate. This will be cracked down on more this year and if someone is caught operating a vessel without a license, the guardian will be cited for allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a vessel. Pay close attention to the buoys and markers they are placed in various areas for a reason. Idle speed zones are going to be enforced stricter than ever. If you are uncertain what idle speed is then put your boat in neutral and slowly place it in forward gear. When the boat starts to slowly glide through the water, this is considered IDLE SPEED.
Boaters in Need:
If you ever happen to find yourself in distress while out on the water here are a few tips to remember. Try and flag someone down by waving by arms up high. The boating community is usually very helpful to each other, and will usually help one another when in need. Check with the local marinas. A lot of times they will help you out and can make it to you quicker than I can. Especially if you’re already a customer with them. Don’t be afraid to dial 911. You can also dial *HP. Just make sure to be able to give a good location to where you’re at, and a brief description of what your emergency is (whether you ran out of gas or something else mechanical). We are fortunate enough to have mile markers on this lake, but if you don’t know which river (Tallapoosa or Little Tallapoosa) you’re on, it doesn’t help matters. A quicker response time relies on you being able to tell me a general area so I know where to begin my search. If anyone needs to speak with me directly you can give dispatch a call at 256-357-2309 and leave a message for me. I’ll return your call as soon as I can.
Have fun this year, be safe, and I'll see y'all on the water.
EDITOR IN CHIEF