Memorial Day weekend is the start of boating season

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is looked upon as the start of the summer boating season, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to emphasize the use of life jackets along with boating in a safe and responsible manner.

The May 29-31 holiday weekend is expected to be one of the busiest of the year with many boaters going to the water for first time in 2021.

Along with the use of life jackets, TWRA wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating. It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Tennessee.

“We want our boaters and fishermen to enjoy their time on our waterways,” said Capt. Matt Majors, statewide boating investigator. “However, boating incidents are preventable. Boating under the influence is irresponsible and illegal. Our wildlife officers will be out to ensure the safety of our boating public.”

As reported, the TWRA has seen a noticeable increase in boating traffic during the past year and a boom in the use of paddlecraft, such as kayaks and paddleboards throughout the state. Personal flotation devices are a requirement on kayaks and stand-up paddlecraft.

Over the 2020 holiday weekend, there was a boating-related fatality that occurred in an incident below Fort Loudoun Dam. The fatality was one of 32 during 2020, the most in 37 years which came on the heels of a record-low eight in 2019. There have been eight fatalities thus far this year.

For those having boats on the water for the first time this year, TWRA officials say taking a few minutes to check some of the boat components may be the key to having a nice, safe outing. Performing a simple maintenance check before getting on the water may prevent problems. Check hoses to make sure they are in good shape. Make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs.