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Rookie boaters, safety reminder

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Rich Stern

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We had a nice family outing today for Mother's Day. Beautiful weather. Lake Lanier was a bit busy, but it's still pre-season, so the number of boats wasn't overwhelming. We anchored out at a nice spot just off a beach, carted our picnic supplies ashore and started to play. After an hour or so, another boat, a 21' Larson deck/fish/ski boat, with a mom, a dad, a granddad, and three youngsters, about 2 to 5 years, beaches nearby.

I watched this family make a bunch of mistakes, some funny, some dangerous. Within 30 minutes, I observed:

- Poor boathandling. The dad was driving and did a lousy beaching job. There was a lot of wave action and he didn't get the bow on shore properly. The rear of the boat swung around and he was broadside to the waves, getting pushed ashore. He had already shut down and tilted the motor, and got started unloading people, not giving himself any chance to correct the situation. It isn't easy to get a 3000 lb. boat off the beach once it's been washed ashore. I got to the back of the boat in time to hold it off and tied it off to my boat, which was anchored about 50 feet off the shore.

- Carelessness. Grandpa was sitting on the gunwale, despite the instability of the boat in the waves. A wave hit the boat, and over he went, backwards, head first, into the drink. Fortunately, it was a soft beach and there were no rocks where he landed. Coulda been a fatality if there had been a rock in the wrong place.

- More carelessness. The boat was nice and shiny, but the deck was cluttered with gear. They were climbing all over it to get off the bow onto the beach. Again, the boat was unstable due to the wave action, so this was doubly treacherous with old and young aboard.

- Careless to the point of being reckless: They let the kids play in the water immediately next to the beached boat, which was rising and falling on the beach due to the wave action. Not too hard to imagine a foot or a hand in the wrong place at the wrong moment. The parents were oblivious; no warning, no suggestion to play elsewhere on the beach, no watchful eye. Jeanne and I had one eye on Zachary and the other on those three kids the entire time.

Nice family, just not way up on the darwinian scale of boating skills.

So, what's my point? Well, it's boating season again, and all kinds of boaters are taking to the water for fishing, sports and leisure in general.

Be careful. If you are new to boats, take a boating safety course, read some books, and most of all, remember when you are on the water: There are a lot of things out there that can do you harm. The water, the weather, your boat, other boats, obstacles. Your responsibility is to be thinking ahead of those things for yourself and your passengers.
 

Staci Matheis

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And as Darwin would say....... "This speices shall make themselves extinct - pray to God that they don't take any others with them."
 
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