LAKE WYLIE -- Think you know Lake Wylie?
Well, two guys with as much experience on the water as anybody found out recently that even they still had a thing or two to learn. So, on Thursday, Lt. Scott Spivey will be passing those lessons along.
"We're going to try them out and see where it goes," said Spivey of a new set of courses offered through his boater education group, Lighthouse Marine Service.
Since forming in 2000, Lighthouse began working to educate boaters throughout the Charlotte area with boating safety and maintenance courses. As people came through the course, Spivey said, they often asked if any courses specific to their home lakes were available.
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So Spivey decided to create one. On Thursday night, "About Lake Wylie" will offer everything from sights and sounds of the lake to potential hazards.
"It will be very specific to Lake Wylie," Spivey said. "It's for people who want to know what are the dangerous areas of Lake Wylie, what are some of the attractions of Lake Wylie. Maybe they want to know a little history so they can enjoy the lake. It's for people asking what do I need to look for."
Information on boat ramps and parks will be included, Spivey said, as will lakeside restaurants and gathering spots. Charles "Bo" Ibach, who teaches safe boating classes similar to the Lighthouse course with the Charlotte Power Squadron, recently accompanied Spivey on a venture along the lake in preparation for "About Lake Wylie."
With decades of Lake Wylie experience between them, the two still managed to surprise themselves.
"I found parts of Lake Wylie that I've never been to and, quite frankly, don't ever want to go back to," said Ibach.
Go far enough up the South Fork, Ibach said, and depths plummet to a foot and a half. Then there are obstructions in the water only locals know from a distance. Activity levels at places like the sandbars during summer or marinas also are helpful for boaters wanting to enjoy the lake, he said.
While the new Lake Wylie class is aims at enjoyment of the lake as much as safety, the main goal of Lighthouse Marine Service remains proper boating techniques and boater responsibility. Courses offered by Lighthouse like "GPS/Fish Finder," "Night Boating & Anchoring," boat maintenance classes and the "About" series featuring lakes Wylie and Norman all hope to draw boaters in for the main message.
"Definitely the classes will be a lead-in to the safe boating course," Spivey said.
Especially in Lake Wylie, it is important that more people find the various options for boating education, Ibach said. Similar classes on Lake Norman can draw 25-30 people, while Lake Wylie may have half a dozen participants or fewer.
"It's not real exciting in terms of attendance of these things like it should be," Ibach said.
Though not mandated in North or South Carolina, 35 states do require boating safety education for all boaters. North Carolina, Ibach said, ranks sixth nationally in boating wrecks and fatalities. And even the boaters who do take classes--particularly children who are required to be certified--often do so online instead of in a classroom.
"There's no way to tell who took the course," Ibach said.
Several different local groups offer boating classes, and a $30 course can reduce boater insurance rates by 10-15 percent, Ibach said. Information about safe boating courses, as well as other courses through Lighthouse Marine Service, will be available at Thursday's "About Lake Wylie" course.
Want to go? "About Lake Wylie," the first course in a new series introducing boaters to their local lakes, takes place 6-9 p.m. at the Lake Wylie Library, 185 Blucher Circle, Lake Wylie. Cost is $25. For more information about the class, to register or for information on other Lighthouse Marine Service courses, visit lmservice.org.