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Mandatory boater education idea making waves

Posted September 8, 2008

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— A group of homeowners on Lake Gaston say there are far too many reckless boaters on North Carolina waterways and it is time for a change. 

“There are no center lines on the highways out here. There are no brakes on boats,” Pete Deschenes, with the Lake Gaston Homeowners Association, said.

Almost daily, Deschenes says he sees boats being driven recklessly. He says he wonders if boaters know what the rules are.

“This all comes out very clearly in any type of mandatory boater education course,” Deschenes said.

Deschenes and Jack Saunders, also with the Lake Gaston Homeowners Association, along with Rep. Michael H. Wray, D-Northampton, are lobbing for mandatory boating eduction in North Carolina.

“It affects all navigable water from the coast to the mountains, and it's very important because of safety,” Wray said.

Deschenes and Saunders say boaters should have to pass a written test before they get behind the wheel.

“It's not a big ordeal to take the course or to take the test,” Saunders added.

Some people with whom WRAL talked with said they liked the idea, but only for young boaters. Bailey Davis says experienced boaters should not be forced to take a course.

“They're the ones paying for the boat. They're the ones paying for the insurance. They're old enough to know what they're doing,” Davis said.

Twenty people were killed in boating accidents statewide last year.

Wray says he hopes state lawmakers will pass the mandatory boater safety testing in 2009.

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  • Cajunwon Sep 10, 2008

    I took a USCGA basic seamanship course (forget the name), a good course for all and confirmed what I thought I knew after living on LkGaston and 3 decades of boat usage (& gives discount on insurance). There will always be perceptions of other boaters as reckless regardless of certificates, courses or exams. Most just realize that ROW is not an absolute right, more a guideline. We also accept that most do not know ROW rules or ramp etiquette. Recreational boating does not need more regulation or enforcement -it's more about having safe fun on the water.

  • CrewMax Sep 9, 2008

    I haven't met too many lakelot owners that didn't think they owned
    the lake in front of them. I am all for training - but the the training should involve boat ramp procedure and etiquette. If you want to have some fun, take a Sunday lunch to the ramp and watch the idiots. It is a different story if you are waiting on someone to get their boat ready and blocking four ramps.

  • f6rider Sep 9, 2008

    Obviously the person making noise on Lake Gaston is retired and doesn't have enough to do in his spare time. I own a home on Lake Gaston, I own a 20' boat and two Jet Skis and I'm not seeing this issue that he's promoting regarding reckless boating. Jet ski's have been a serious issue and the State has addressed that, boats I don't see as an issue. This fellow needs to get a life!!

  • ncsulilwolf Sep 9, 2008

    "there are far too many reckless boaters on North Carolina waterways and it is time for a change"

    AMEN. Unfortunately, this will probably end up like the "mandatory education" in other states where the exam is taken online (by anyone - ie: a potential "boaters" older brother, neighbor, etc.) and their certificate is mailed to them... not exactly well-trained by any means.

  • Tax Man Sep 8, 2008

    I'm with Barefoot Butcher - I have taken the US Coast Guard Boating Safety courses and the US Power Squadron Navigation and Safe Boatsmanship classes. They should be required for anyone to operate a boat on public access waters. Take a class, get a license, get insurance - have fun boating the right way!

  • ridgerunner Sep 8, 2008

    I have seen many older boaters that had no idea of the 'boating rules of the road'. Seems the larger boat they have the less they know.

  • BarefootButcher Sep 8, 2008

    I am a boat owner and I have completed the Coast Guard Safe Boating class. I wish it was mandatory. There are way too many people out there on the water who don't have a clue as to the safe operation of their vessel. They know forward and reverse. I live near the coast and I won't get anywhere near the water on a holiday weekend. I watched a boater come tearing through Taylor's Creek in Beaufort last weekend. Guess what? It's a no wake zone. Make classes mandatory. Make the waterways safer.