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Smith Mountain Lake boating safety: Our top 10 tips

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b2ap3_thumbnail_2015-simple-trainer-action_small.jpgYou want all of your Smith Mountain Lake boating excursions to be safe, right?

Of course you do!

That’s why it’s a good idea to brush up on Smith Mountain Lake boating rules, regulations and etiquette at the beginning of each season (and practice them all year long).

Virginia leaders think so, too, which is why the third week in May each year is designated as Safe Boating Week in the Commonwealth.

Read on for top tips from Roy Enslow, a long-time proponent of safe boating at Smith Mountain Lake and a recipient of the Governor’s Transportation Safety Award for Water Safety.

  1. Get your vessel inspected at the start of each season. At Smith Mountain Lake, that means contacting the Smith Mountain Lake Sail and Power Squadron, which conducts checks for FREE at SML.

  2. Take a boating safety course. Beginning July 2, 2015, all PWC operators age 14 and older and boat operators ages 50 and younger need to have completed a boating safety course. The course is free and can be taken in a classroom or online.

  3. Check the forecast for Smith Mountain Lake and your fuel status before departing on your SML boating excursion. Bring along a fully-charged mobile phone, too.

  4. Make sure everyone on your vessel is wearing a properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Need help choosing? Ask a member of the Bridgewater Marina staff.

  5. Designate a skipper to be alcohol-free.

  6. Turn on navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility. And remember, personal watercraft (also known as jet skis and Sea-Doos) don’t have lights and can only be operated during daytime hours.

  7. Ensure your boat has a USCG-approved, adequately charged fire extinguisher aboard.

  8. Ensure your boat’s horn, whistle or bell is fully operational.

  9. Comply with lake markers and no-wake zones – areas designated by orange and white buoys and anywhere within 50 feet of shore docks and people in the water.

  10. Make sure you have an observer to watch skiers, boarders or tubers who can alert the driver if he or she needs to slow down or stop. Remember, it takes three to ski!

Smith Mountain Lake boating safety BONUS tips!

  • Unlike on the road, there is no speed limit on the water. However, it’s imperative that boat skippers use common sense and practice safe boating techniques at all times. If you’re unsure about a situation, always throttle down.
  • It’s never safe to swim or boat alone at Smith Mountain Lake. Always use the buddy system.

Follow these tips and regulations to help ensure your time on Smith Mountain Lake is safe. For more information, tune into the Bridgewater Marina Vimeo Channel.


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