Showing respect as boating season arrives

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2011 10:49 pm

The water is getting warmer and the fish are spawning. The weather is great. Our lakes and rivers are starting to get crowded again. The only downside is that the water levels are down and it may be a little tricky to maneuver to your favorite fishin’ hole.

I grew up around one of the largest lakes in Texas and it was common for me be out on the lake at least two or three days a week. Having grown older, wiser, and somewhat cynical, now the only thing I see is the line of impatient boaters waiting to launch their boats at the ramp.

One of my pet peeves is the 250 horsepower ski boat that buzzes me like a mosquito while I am trying to catch the big one at my favorite fishing hole. I am surprised that we don’t have more incidents of “boat rage.”

To help make your boating trip a little safer and more enjoyable for the other person, follow these safety tips:

Wear your life jacket. They are the boating equivalent of the seat belt for cars. Also called personal flotation devices, life jackets are required for all persons in a motor powered boat, and in some cases in sailboats, canoes, and kayaks.

I can remember when the only life jackets made were the bulky orange vests. While they are not a very good fashion statement, they can save your life. Personal flotation devices have come a long way. Don’t let fashion or comfort scare you away from wearing a life jacket.

Be aware of and respect other boaters. Remember that other boats may be smaller than yours and may not be able to handle the wake of speeding boats. Be aware of “no wake” zones and posted speed limits around marinas and boat ramps.

Alcohol and boating do not mix. The laws regarding alcohol consumption and operating a boat while intoxicated are very similar to those regarding alcohol consumption and operating a vehicle. You can be arrested for boating while intoxicated and can have your driver’s license suspended the same as if you were driving a car.

If you are operating a boat while intoxicated, cause a boating accident, or cause injuries or death, you can be prosecuted and sentenced to prison. Montgomery Count law enforcement agencies are increasing their boating inspections and patrols on Lake Conroe.

Whether you use your boat for recreation, business, or just serious fishing, remember that the only good boating trip is the one you come back from. To learn more about enjoying safe boating, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website at www.tpwd.state.tx.us or the United States Coast Guard website at www.uscgboating.org

Now that the prime fishing, skiing, and swimming season is upon us and the summer vacations are approaching, remember to be safe when you are on the water. I remember a bumper sticker that read, “Don’t be a pain in the boat!.”

For more information on this or any other crime prevention topic, contact the Conroe Police Department Crime Prevention Unit at 522-3327 or 3226. If you have a neighborhood problem or drug activity in your area, contact the Conroe Police Department Narcotics Unit at 522-3303. For questions or comments about this column, you can contact me at bberry@cityofconroe.org.

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