SCDNR to offer free boat inspections


MANNING - Memorial Day launches a busy season for recreational activities on Lake Marion as well as all the lakes and waterways across South Carolina.

Every year on and around Memorial Day weekend, officers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources hold courtesy boat inspections at public boat landings across the state to ensure the safety of both boats and the individuals on those boats.

From 10 a.m. until noon on Memorial Day, DNR officers will be conducting courtesy boat inspections at Alex Harvin III Landing off U.S. 260 south of Manning.

"The courtesy boat inspections hold a two-fold purpose," said SCDNR Sgt. Cary Robinson. "First, the inspections can save lives by making sure that the necessary safety equipment is on the boats. And, secondly, the inspections can save boaters money since the courtesy checks are free and can prevent possible equipment safety violations."

SCDNR officers will perform a quick, but thorough, inspection of your boat to make sure you have all the required safety equipment and proper boat and motor registration for your watercraft before you head out on the lake. These courtesy inspections are completely voluntary and are not required before launching your boat.

Boaters who do participate in the free courtesy inspection and are found to be not in compliance with safety regulations or registration requirements will not be ticketed during the complimentary inspections. Boaters who are not in compliance will be given the opportunity to correct the problem before putting their boat in the water. Officers will also answer any boating questions as well as offer boating tips on how to stay safe on the water.

Robinson also urged boaters to use caution not to drink while operating a boat.

"Alcohol affects each person differently," Robinson added. "Please don't drink and then operate your boat or watercraft."

SCDNR offers a checklist to go over before leaving home and another checklist to review before launching.

Be sure your boat or personal watercraft is equipped with an ignition safety switch or engine shutoff. This device is designed to shut off the engine if the operator falls off or is thrown into the water. A lanyard connects the safety switch to the operator's wrist or personal flotation device. When the lanyard is pulled from the switch, the engine shuts off. In South Carolina, it is illegal to operate a boat or personal watercraft without a fully operational self-circling device or a lanyard-type ignition safety switch.

Before leaving home:

- Download a DNR float plan, fill it out and make sure you leave the plans with a responsible individual.

- Always check the weather.

- Let someone know where you are going.

- Gather all lifesaving devices and make sure that they are all in good serviceable condition and are the correct size for all the passengers, including children.

- Check the fuel and the battery charge.

- Make sure all lights are in good working condition on both the boat and the boat trailer.

- Make sure a fire extinguisher is readily accessible and in good serviceable condition.

- Put the plug in.

- Connect the trailer safety chains to the tow vehicle.

- Carry a cell phone if possible.

Before you head out on the water:

- Know the aids to navigation and buoy system in your areas.

- Don't operate the boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

- When operating sailboats, be aware of overhead power lines and wires.

- If someone falls overboard, throw something that will float (i.e. Personal Floating Device, life jacket, raft or cooler).

- All boats approaching from the right have the right of way.

- Always anchor from the bow of the boat and pull the anchor before leaving.

- If your boat capsizes, stay with the boat.

- If caught in a storm, head into the wind, put on your Personal Floating Devices and keep passengers low in the boat.

- Cold water boaters such as duck hunters, fishermen, sailors need to beware that "Cold water kills!"

- Call SCDNR Operation Game Thief at 1-800-922-5431 to report boating, fishing or hunting violations.