Boaters Encouraged To Use Caution When Boating On Lake Hartwell -

Boaters Encouraged To Use Caution When Boating On Lake Hartwell

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Boaters are urged to boat safely during the upcoming Memorial day weekend.

"It's beautiful, it's a beautiful lake," says Rusty Shaffer as he prepares to go fishing on Lake Hartwell.

The lake, close to full capacity, is indeed beautiful. Hartwell has been low over the past years exposing shoals and other risks to boats. Now, with higher levels the risks have disappeared from site, but they're still there.

"You're going to have to use more caution when you're on the waters," Shaffer says.

 The Department of Natural Resources is hoping people will exert more caution on the lakes as summer boating season kicks off this weekend.

"This year it's wide open and a lot more attractive," says Jeffrey Ginn with the Department of Natural Resources.

Ginn says a full lake means a lot more boaters to pay attention too. It's also important to note where the shoals are. They can be seen slightly under water but they are also marked.

"You can still run aground even with the lake as high as it is," Ginn says.

Beaches and swimming areas have also changed. Some designated swimming areas were on dry land last year. Boats approaching the area need to know to stay away.

Higher levels also brings boats closer to the bottom of bridges. Traveling under bridges are a no-wake zone are especially important when there's little room above your head.

"A lot of people just aren't paying attention. They see this wide open area, there's no lanes on the lake so they just go wherever they want," Ginn says.

Bottom line, boaters need to be aware of other boats and shoals. Also, remember there is a zero tolerance policy for boat operators who are drinking.

"Just like you can get a DUI in your car, you can get a BUI on the lake," Ginn says.

That's a reminder fisher Kip Watson hopes other boaters listen too.

"Stay sober, keep your eyes open," Watson Says.

DNR is offering free boat safety checks on Sunday, May 27.

The checks will be at River Forks Recreation Area from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Also, on Memorial Day and the 4th of July South Carolina Residents can fish on any lake without a license. 

Lake Hartwell is currently well above the level it was at this time last year. The lake is currently at 659.96 feet meaning beaches boaters were used to in 2012 are now gone. With the increased level, shorelines have changed. Boaters need to be aware of what's changed since last year when the lake was at one of it's lowest levels in recent years.

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