Law enforcement emphasizing safety ahead of busy boating season

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As we approach the busy season for recreational boating, the Law Enforcement Division for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources wants to make sure that if you are going out on the water, you know the rules.

Patrolling the Savannah River in Effingham County for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Game Warden First Class Jordan Crawford is seeing this stretch of water become increasingly popular with boaters, of all experience levels. Crawford keeps an eye out for violations of rules that are in place to help save lives.

"The wearing of life jackets by children, any child under the age of 13 when the boat is in motion is required to wear a life jacket; a properly fitting life jacket," Crawford said.

The DNR's law enforcement division also looks for boaters going too fast in restricted zones and anyone driving under the influence.

It may be a different body of water, but boater safety is also a priority for the Marine Rescue Squadron out of Coffee Bluff Marina - one of several marine rescue squadrons up and down the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

Bringing their own boats, technology and years of experience, these volunteer rescuers are often called on to assist in marine rescues in the intercoastal waterways.

A member of the Coffee Bluff 2-A Marine Rescue Squadron, Denis Robertson said, "Our biggest asset, our biggest draw I guess, is our response time. We can be on scene a lot quicker than say your municipality, your county and all. Coast Guard has to be dispatched out. If they call us, we can be in the water in a matter of minutes."

"If somebody's in trouble, pick up the phone and we go. We have no constraints whatsoever, we take off," Robertson added.

There are roughly 400 volunteers at 10 different squadron locations in the region.

From 10-6 on Saturday, the Coffee Bluff Marine Rescue Squadron will be holding its annual Barbecue Dinner Fundraiser at the Squadron's Coffee Bluff facility located at the end of White Bluff Road on the Forrest River.  This popular event sells more than  2,500 dinners and cooks prepare 2,800 pounds of pork. Dinners will cost $8 each and include barbecue, cole slaw, brunswick stew, and a roll.

The money raised helps the non-profit volunteer group with operations throughout the year.

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