Be safe on the water

Gov. Rick Snyder has declared June 7-14 as Michigan Boating Week and is encouraging people to experience the many boating opportunities the state has to offer.
Jun 13, 2014

That’s fantastic news, as boating is a huge part of Michigan’s booming summer tourism industry.

We’re surrounded by Great Lakes, along with rivers and inland lakes. These lakes and rivers offer countless opportunities for pleasure cruising, skiing and wakeboarding, fishing, or just flat-out flying across the surface of the water, the throttle buried and the wind whipping through your hair.

This seems like the perfect time to remind boaters that these inviting waterways are full of perils.

The Grand River is an excellent example. Over the winter months and throughout the spring flooding, trees, logs and other debris have been washed from the shore and have come to rest at various places along the river. Buoys, docks and sandbars make great hang-ups for trees — and, like icebergs, it’s the part under the water that can wreck your prop in no time.

Speaking of sandbars, they move all the time. An easily navigable channel one year can become filled in and turn into a beaching waiting to happen.

Those who spend enough time on the water know to take it slow the first few times out. They scout out their travel routes for shallow spots or other obstacles, and they aren’t surprised when they see boats run ashore on shallow spots that have cropped up over the past year.

Learn the rules of the water. Understand the buoy system so you know what those green and red route markers mean. Remember this: Unlike roads, lakes and rivers don’t have specific lanes to stay in. Pay attention to your surroundings — and, from time to time, remember to glance behind you in case a faster boat is catching up to you.

These rules become even more important when you’re pulling kids on a tube or a wakeboard. These are popular and fun summer activities, but they can turn tragic if the people behind the wheels aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.

Michigan in general, and Grand Haven/Spring Lake in particular, are great places to spend a day on the water. Let’s all do our part to keep those waterways safe.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

 

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