As more people take advantage of our gorgeous summer weather here in Georgia, you’ll notice a significant increase in boating traffic on Lake Oconee. But boating isn’t as easy as simply jumping in the boat and taking off at full throttle. A good captain and his/her crew know there is a lot more to it than that. The main ingredient for a fun day of boating on Lake Oconee? Safety.

Boating safely doesn’t have to be hard. It helps to avoid accidents and more importantly, liability if anyone gets injured. You just have to keep a few key points in mind when you’re getting ready to head out onto the water.

Conduct a vessel safety check

Is your boat sea-worthy? Gain peace of mind by ensuring that it is. It only takes about 15-30 minutes. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary provides a simple 15-point checklist as a guide. Also, we have offered free vessel safety checks at The Boathouse Marina in the past. Be aware of the next one by liking us on Facebook.

Use life jackets

Believe it or not, the majority of drownings are the result of boaters not wearing life jackets. Ensure that each person on board has one that fits them properly, especially if they are going to be tubing, water skiing, wakeboarding, or wake surfing. They don’t call them “life savers” for nothing!

Obey navigation rules and laws

Boating accidents often happen due to the operator’s lack of understanding the waterway rules and regulations. Be respectful of buoys and other navigation aids. Boat U.S. Foundation provides a good overview of boating navigation rules. Also, pay close attention to no wake zones and also remember the 100-foot law. The latter states that boats and personal watercrafts cannot operate at greater than idle speed within 100 feet of another boat, dock, bridge, person in the water, the shoreline, marina, or other public use areas.

Don’t drink and boat

Do your best to avoid alcohol when boating, especially if you are the operator. Drinking slows your thinking and impairs your judgment, putting you and all souls on board at risk. Is it worth it? Nope. Because operating a boat while intoxicated is a federal offense, subject to a $1,000 fine. Be smart and avoid a BUI.

Watch the weather

As fantastic as the weather has been, we all know that it can change in a flash. Pay attention to the meteorologist reports before heading out on the water. Once out, watch for rapidly shifting winds and darkening clouds. Use a radar app on your smartphone, as thunderstorms can pop up at any time. When there is a lot of lightening, being on the water is NO fun.

Not sure where to go if you see a storm brewing? Head over to our Boathouse Marina and Restaurant (located at 3991 Walker Church Rd) to take shelter. Shop at our convenience store or indulge in delicious food and beverages at the restaurant while you wait for the storm to blow over (as they always do.) Our marina is also a great place to fuel up, and better yet, enjoy a free summer concert event. Stay safe out there, and we hope to see you soon!