By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
With warmer weather here and lake levels rising, boaters are beginning to flock to Lake Hartwell to enjoy the spring weather, some for the first time.
With that in mind, first- time boaters have the opportunity to take advantage of a free boating class coming up this Saturday at the Hartwell Lake office in Hartwell.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Officer Craig Fulgum said the class is open to all boaters, experienced and novice, ages 12 and up.
He said the free boating class has many advantages.
“It’s available to adults and the insurance companies will sometimes offer discounts to boaters who take the safety class,” Fulgum said.
He also noted with new boating laws set to be enacted this summer, now is a good time to sign up for a safety class.
“One law is requiring mandatory boating education for children so if you want to be a proactive parent, now is a good time to avoid the long lines later and get your child signed up for a boating safety class,” Fulgum said.
This Saturday’s class will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to anyone in the Northeast Georgia area.
Fulgum said knowing how to stay safe on the water is particularly important now that state lawmakers have passed several new boating laws.
He went on to say that other topics will also be covered.
“We go over all the safety rules and regulations that are new and the existing ones,” he said. “We also go over the laws for both Georgia and South Carolina since we live on a body of water that is in both states. The rules and regulations are different for boating in Georgia and South Carolina and there are a lot of them so we cover all of that as well.”
One of the new laws in Georgia for boaters is a lower Boating Under the Influence level.
Senate Bill 136 is awaiting Governor Nathan Deal’s signature and lowers the limit for being legally intoxicated on any lake in Georgia to .08 grams per 100 grams of blood from the current .10 grams.
The move comes after several boating deaths on Lake Lanier last summer that were alcohol related.
If you miss this Saturday’s class, Fulgum said he plans to hold two more boating safety classes this spring.