Langley – Each year, the busiest boating weekend on the Grand River Dam Authority’s Grand and Hudson lakes typically fall around the July 4 holiday, and 2013 should be no exception. Summer weather, fireworks displays, family gatherings and other holiday celebrations will draw thousands to the lakes for extended stays in conjunction with Independence Day.
In the midst of all those celebrations, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department continues to encourage safe, smart and sober boating. Officers will be out in full force to patrol GRDA waters, to assist boaters and, of course, to promote safe outings.
One very special message GRDA wants to share with boaters during the holiday involves Duck Creek and the special boating rules that will be in effect on July 4.
The special Duck Creek rules are as follows:
― All watercraft wider than 8.5 feet shall operate at “idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek. (If the vessel is wider than 8.5 ft. Duck Creek is no wake for the vessel at all times regardless of length).
― All watercraft longer than 30 feet shall operate at “idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek. (If the vessel is longer than 30 ft., Duck Creek is no wake for the vessel at all times regardless of width).
― All watercraft smaller than both measurements listed above may operate on plane not to exceed 30 mph in Duck Creek from official sunrise to official sunset.
― All watercraft must “idle” and avoid producing a wake from official sunset to official sunrise (night time) in Duck Creek between May 1 and Oct. 1. (No wake in Duck Creek for all vessels at night).
― All watercraft must stay to the right of the center lane of buoys and at least 150 feet away from any dock, breakwater, structure or shoreline.
― On the actual day of the Duck Creek Firework (Thursday, July 4, 2013), all watercraft shall operate at “idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek (all day, all night).
― The area known as “The Turn” (area near Harbor’s View and Ugly John’s) is a no wake zone for all vessels at all times.
― Areas north of “The Turn” are No Skiing areas and the vessel size restrictions mentioned above apply to this area as well.
While these are special rules for one specific area of Grand Lake, the GRDA Police reminds lake visitors that following lake rules and proper boating practices on all areas of the water is the best way to ensure a safe outing. What follows is a simple guide to some of the frequently asked questions concerning lake rules.
― Boats must not operate within 200 feet of any GRDA dam or no closer than 500 feet during generation.
― Boats, including personal watercraft (PWCs) must not operate within 50 feet of another vessel when running at speeds over 10 miles per hour (provided this prohibition shall not apply to vessels operating in sanctioned events).
― The nighttime speed limit on GRDA lakes is 25 miles per hour.
― Wake jumping is prohibited in any cove, creek or hollow.
― Water skiing, jet skiing and similar activities are permitted only during daylight hours and are prohibited upstream from above Twin Bridges, in Elm Creek, east of Grove. A boat towing a skier must have a person (at least 8 years old) in position to observe that skier, unless a rear view mirror has been installed for boat operator observation of skier.
Finally, GRDA Police continues to stress the dangers of drinking and boating. According to the United States Coast Guard’s most recent statistics on recreational boating, alcohol use remains the leading contributing factor in boating accidents. Nationwide in 2012, there were 368 accidents, 313 injuries and 140 deaths as a result of drinking and boating.
“It’s just a bad idea,” said GRDA Assistant General Manager/Chief of Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Brian Edwards. “It can impair your judgment, your depth perception and overall ability to operate your vessel. Plus, it creates a dangerous situation not only for you but for your passengers and everyone else in the water around you.”
GRDA officers will be continuing the “I Got Caught” life jacket campaign during the July 4 holiday. That is where free t-shirts are given to those boaters who are “caught” wearing their life jackets on GRDA waters. While that campaign helps promote life jackets, GRDA again offers some important tips to keep in mind when you buy a life jacket:
― BUY your own personal life jacket and use it. One size does not fit all.
― LOOK at the label. It will provide weight, size and use information.
― TRY it on to check the fit. Once the straps and buckles are secured, it should not slip over your head.
― NEVER use water toys in place of an approved life jacket.
― CHECK your life jacket yearly for flotation and fit.
― FINALLY, WEAR A LIFE JACKET to set an example for younger children and to increase your chances of survival in an accident.
Edwards added that GRDA’s goal is for everyone to enjoy a wonderful, safe outing on the water over the holiday, and boating safe, boating smart and boating sober makes that possible.
“Come have a great time on the water,” he added, “but play safe so you can come back again too.”
For more information on the GRDA Police Department or, for information on how an officer can assist you, contact the department at (918) 256 0911 or visit us online at grda.com.
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