Chatham Co. Marine Patrol gives tips on boating safety ahead of Memorial Day

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:44 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s National Boating Safety Week and Memorial Day is the unofficial start of boating season.

It’s a time when many take to the water and when Chatham Marine Patrol sees an increase in rescue calls.

Now, ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, first responders are urging boaters not to drive vessels under the influence saying that’s one of the top causes of the most serious incidents.

“You also got to make sure you have all your safety equipment. We got your throwable, your life jackets, your fire extinguisher, your visual distress device. You may not need it but somebody else may need it,” said Cpl. Heath Wynn with CCPD Marine Patrol.

Marine Patrol’s most common calls are for boats that run aground.

Rescuers say to study tides and use navigation software to help guide you to main channels and avoid sand bars to keep from getting stuck.

“We might not get there for an hour. The Coast Guard might not get there for 30 minutes to an hour as well so your other boaters might be a good help to you. And you always need to carry some medical kits on board.”

Marine Patrol suggests having a tow membership since they say emergency crews can’t recover disabled boats, they only save people.

They also say to study up on local laws including the 100 feet rule.

“You need to be at idle speed from any bridge, pier, person in the water, anchored vessel. With jet skis, they can’t be jumping the waves of another vessel within 100 feet, which we ran into a lot.”

Chatham Marine Patrol sharing these tips in an effort to keep you and your passengers safe on the water this summer.