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Waterfront Stadium event kicks off Safe Boating Week

Becky Vargo • Updated May 24, 2017 at 8:00 AM

A cool breeze off Lake Michigan and threatening skies may have slowed down attendance at a National Safe Boating Week event at Grand Haven’s Waterfront Stadium on Tuesday, but a few local residents still took the opportunity to discuss opportunities for boat safety checks and overcoming any confusion of no-wake zones on the Grand River.

Joe Risselade, a former Spring Lake resident who now lives upriver in Grand Haven, said the no-wake signs don’t say if you are entering or leaving the zones. However, officer Brandon Davis of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department’s Marine Patrol said that it is every boater’s responsibility to know the zones.

A no-wake map of the Grand River and Spring Lake can be viewed at miottawa.org. Go to the “Sheriff’s Department” page, then open the online links.

Coast Guard Station Grand Haven Operations Officer Mike Sheahan encourages people to also register their paddlesport boats. Registration stickers are available in the lobby at the Coast Guard Station on Harbor Drive.

Sheahan said if a loose kayak or paddleboard turns up somewhere, the information on it can be used to track down the owner to make sure there isn’t a person missing in the water.

State conservation officer Erik Bailey handed out Water Watcher cards at Tuesday’s event. Bailey said the cards are handed out to anyone entering state parks. They are designed to raise awareness and make sure someone is designated to keep watch on the people in their group at all times. They also give directions on what to do if someone gets in trouble in the water. On the back it shows warning flags and definitions.

The next boat safety event is free boat inspections from 3-7 p.m. Friday, May 26, at Grand Haven’s Municipal Marina slip 28, and across the street from the marina at the Covenant Life Church parking lot on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Harbor Drive. This will provide an opportunity for boaters to get an inspection if they are already on the water or if they have their boat on a trailer.

Davis said people are also welcome to flag down a sheriff’s marine patrol boat for a safety inspection.

Boaters who pass the safety inspection will get a sticker to place on their vessel.

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