Fort Mill Times

Lake leaders looking for safe summer season

Trent Faris and Sgt. Ed Ware spent a recent Friday boating on Lake Wylie, video camera in tow. But it wasn’t entirely a pleasure trip.

Faris and Ware spent time filming a public service announcement for the York County Sheriff’s Office reminding boaters to be cautiouson the water this summer.

“Don’t let a great day out on the lake be ruined by a bad decision,” Faris, public information officer for the department, tells the camera.

Memorial Day kicks boating season into high gear on Lake Wylie. Each year there is a range of lake activities from fishing tournaments to the annual Captain Clueless benefit race to the biggest boating day of the year, Fourth of July.

This year brings special events, too. Lake Wylie Marina is putting on a summer “boat-in” movie series. Lake Wylie Music Fest returns to Boyds Cove June 8 for a “floating fest.” Last weekend, the U.S. Women’s Kayak Polo Team gathered at McDowell Nature Preserve to pick a final roster for their world games.

In Tega Cay, there an effort is under way by the Carolina Show Ski Team to host a regional show ski tournament this summer. Earlier this year, Duke Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved setting up aski dock near Windjammer Park where the team performs during the summer.

Tega Cay City Council talked in closed session last week about a lease with Duke, liability coverage and similar issues needed before an event could be finalized.

“I would anticipate this being back in regular, open session at the (June 17) Council meeting,” said Charlie Funderburk, city manager.

With all the activity on the water during warmer months, law enforcement and groups like the Lake Wylie Marine Commission try to stay ahead. In the video, Faris reminds boaters younger than 16 they need a state approved boating class to operate a vessel in South Carolina, or be with someone 18 or older. Also, life jackets are needed and should fit, lights should work properly and that some rules that apply on the road also ring true on the water.

“Yes, you can be charged with a DUI driving a boat,” Faris said. “It’s called a BUI.”

North Carolina and South Carolina have different rules for operating a vessel, which can be tricky on Lake Wylie where the state line basically runs the center of the lake lengthwise. The marine commission site, lakewyliemarinecommission.com, lists Wylie-specific rules and tips.

There aren’t new rules for this year, but there are concerns. Recent heavy rains washed up tree limbs and other debris, and washed out buoys.

“We have ‘no wake’ buoys scattered all over the lake. We are working on getting them back in place, but it is going to take some time,” said Commissioner Smitty Hanks.

Hanks reminds boaters that all bridges over Lake Wylie are no wake zones.

“It is still a law there is a ‘no wake’ zone under all bridges on Lake Wylie whether there are buoys marking it or not,” he said.

The company that locates buoys for the commission is “swamped” with work on repairs because of high water, Hanks said, so commissioners may put buoys back themselves, which could take more time.

“We have not set any kind of schedule,” he said. “Our goal will probably be July 4, but even that may be optimistic.”

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