DNR Police ready for start of boating weekend

SOUTH CHARELSTON, W.Va. — Memorial Day weekend is the traditional opening weekend of the boating season in West Virginia. The West Virginia Natural Resources Police plan to have patrols on all of the state’s larger lakes and navigable rivers this weekend with an eye out for problems.

“Boat maintenance is primary. You need to make sure everything is in good working order before you put onto the water,” said Captain Ed Goodson who oversees boating safety for the agency.

Goodson suggested a thorough check of all of the mechanical components like the fuel, fuel lines, electrical systems, and pumps. It’s also important to do a thorough inspection of required safety equipment to make sure a fire extinguisher hasn’t expired, life jackets are still in good shape and haven’t dry rotted during the off season. You’re also reminded you need a life jacket for everybody on board–and if they’re under 12 the need to have it on while the boat is underway.

“They must have a properly fitting PFD, a child cannot wear an adult PFD, they have to be wearing a properly fitting PFD when the boat is underway,” he said.

There’s also the issue of boater education which should have already been addressed.

“If you’re born after 1985, you have to have boater education before you can operate a motor boat. We’re going to include jet skis and PWC’s in that because they do have a motor,” he said.

Natural Resources Police carry plenty of rope to help hand an inevitable tow back to the dock when a boat breaks down. They’ll also be watching closely for revelry, which isn’t illegal, but somebody of legal age and ability to operate the boat needs to refrain from drinking.

“You need to appoint a sober skipper. A lot of times folks get out there and get started and suddenly everybody on the boat has been drinking and you’re miles away from the dock. That’s not a good situation. The penalties for Boating Under the Influence are equal to those of DUI in a vehicle,” he explained.

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