SC DNR Warning Boaters about too much Wake on the water

View of floating debris carried by the tide and caught by the "eco-barrier" before entering Guanabara Bay. (CNN)
View of floating debris carried by the tide and caught by the "eco-barrier" before entering Guanabara Bay. (CNN)

Hurricane Matthew tore through things that folks who live, work or just enjoy the water love, their boats and the docks they sit on.

But now that the storm is gone, there are still concerns about what’s left behind, next to the shore and in the bays and ocean. And concerns about the people who want to enjoy the Lowcountry’s greatest asset.

“Folks trying to dive to recover ramps, when a boat comes by and the wake causes a boating dock which is only partially secured to put them in fear,” explained Representative Weston Newton of Beaufort.

What is striking fear in folks trying to rebuild their docks or just clean up on the water after the storm, boaters driving too wild or fast.

“Some of these docks and some of these marinas are barely hanging on now,” Lt Michael Thomas of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Docks that need to be torn apart or rebuilt entirely. Progress which is being stopped by unaware or uncaring boaters.

“Somebody was on a big log with a chainsaw,” said Newton. “and was knocked off of that log with his chainsaw as a result of a wake going by.”

“Turn around, look at your wake, would you want that hitting you while you were putting your boat in at a boat ramp,” points out Lt Thomas. “or while you were tied up to a dock and your boat was tied up against it.

Those wakes can provide force to not only knock workers off, but knock out what’s left of a hanging dock, sending it out to sea. Putting it in the path of anyone on the water.

“Further wake could make it a total loss for folks who are trying to recover through this period,” said Thomas.

Thats why south carolina dnr is sending out a message by putting out signs that everyone on and off the water should see. They say simply, slow down. For your safety, and everyone else’s.

“look behind your boat and see how big your wake is,” said Larry Toomer of the Bluffton Town Council. “If you aren’t bleeding then slow down. you have plenty of time to get where you are going.

“Hurricane or no hurricane every boater in SC is responsible for your wake, ” said Thomas, “if that wake causes damage to a dock then that is considered negligent operation.”

Right now that negligent operation will just lead to a warning. But DNR officers will be on the waterways making sure everyone is following the rules. If it gets out of hand, DNR will start handing out tickets, hitting speeders where it hurts the most, in their wallets.

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