Planning for what they expect to be a busy spring and summer on the lake, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary members this weekend will teach a course on boating safety.
The course will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at the Thurmond Lake Visitor’s Center, at 510 Clarks Hill Highway in Clarks Hill, S.C., just across the dam. The class costs $20 for individual boaters and $30 for boating families.
The course will address a variety of topics in boating safety, said John VanOsdol, the deputy director of the education department for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and education officer for the auxiliary’s local flotilla.
The course will inform its participants of the parts of the boat and their functions, what to do before setting off, how to navigate, tying knots, anchoring, emergency preparedness, the legal requirements of boating and how to enjoy water sports safely, VanOsdol said.
“This is our premier course because it is approved in all states where people are required to take a course,” VanOsdol said.
VanOsdol wrote the course’s
curriculum and will be teaching most of the course.
As the civilian arm of the Coast Guard, the auxiliary’s main function is to aid the Coast Guard, VanOsdol said.
“The coast guard has tasked us with handling a great deal of their boating education program, so that’s why we’re doing that class,” he said.
The class generally consists of 10-20 boaters and is made to be active and engaging for students of all ages.
“We just take the time to make sure they understand everything that’s going on because boating is a crew activity and everybody in the boat has to play their own part,” he said. “Even the youngest ones need to know what to do when the captain says to do something.”
One thing that has influenced the safety of boaters on the lake has been its fluctuating water level.
“Anytime the lake is down, that’s a potential hazard,” said Jeb Bell, coordinator of Wildwood Park. “Little islands start popping up, stumps start popping up. If you’re unfamiliar, you can run over a little island and that would be really bad, really quick.”
Boaters can navigate the lake safely by understanding the buoy system on the lake, VanOsdol said.
“It tells them, if they follow the buoy system, they’re in safe water,” he said. “If they get outside the buoy system,w it’s a shoot-out.”
But the lake’s water level has been rising recently, Bell said.
“When the lake’s coming up it just makes everything that much better because it’s full, it’s easier to get in and out, it’s safer,” he said.
And as the lake level rises, so does boating participation, said Travis Hayes, owner and manager of Hayes Marine. As the lake level has been rising with recent heavy rains, customers at the marine have been more optimistic for the summer boating season.
“We feel really good about it,” Hayes said. “We’re going to have a very nice lake this spring.”
“We had a great year last year and we’re looking forward to another good year this year,” he said.
For more information about the boating safety course and how to enroll, email VanOsdol at