LMRA is involved with several on-going boater safety initiatives on Lake Martin, including Women on Lake Martin boating classes, Lights on the Water, docking lights awareness and involvement in the annual AquaPalooza festivities.
Women on Lake Martin boating class
In conjunction with Russell Marine, LMRA annually hosts a boater safety and driving course for ladies on Lake Martin, usually in April. Sign up must be in advance and the class can accommodate about 30 ladies who learn basic boating skills and safety. Boats are supplied by Russell Marine and our volunteers and Alabama Marine Police provide the instruction. The course consists of classroom time as well as on-water training. For more information check the Russell Marine website or the Russell Lands On Lake Martin Interactive Calendar.
Lights on the Water
In 1998, a tragic accident occurred on our lake and a young lady lost her life while riding in a pontoon boat at night. All legal lights were working on the pontoon boat but it was just not visible enough to be seen by a fast approaching speed boat. A rear end collision occurred. Approximately 10 years later, at almost the same spot, a pontoon boat was struck at night and one person was killed and several others were injured. A white strobe light on the rear of each of these pontoon boats very likely could have prevented both of these tragic accidents.
The marine law specifying a green and red light on the starboard and port bow of the boat and a white anchor light at the stern was passed in the early 1900’s. Much has changed since then but the light requirements have not changed. Today, there are more boats on the water. Boats are much faster, and on Lake Martin, as on many inland waterways, house lights dot the shoreline. Shoreline lights can deceive the boat operator into thinking that a white light at the stern of a boat is a shoreline light much farther in the distance than it actually is. And at best, the regulation lights are very small and difficult to see. A flashing white strobe light is much more visible and gets attention because of rapid flashes. It does not impair night vision and is much easier to see and identify it’s location than the tiny white regulation light.
Boat manufactures have been encouraged to include such a white strobe light as standard equipment on pontoon boats. Some marine dealers install these lights as after market equipment on all boats they sell. Boat owners can install such a light for a very small cost. LMRA has addressed the use of strobe lights with the Marine Police and they approve of such a light as long as it is white. Our marinas and marine products suppliers have these strobe lights ranging from a simple battery operated light for approximately $25 to a surface mounted light at approximately $60. Both will provide that measure of added safety that will make night running on the lake much safer and could possibly prevent an accident. All boaters are encouraged to consider such a purchase before getting on the water in a pontoon boat at night. Please do this for your own safety and the safety of those on your boat and others.
There is growing concern about the use of docking lights by boaters while on the open water. Most all pontoon boats and many run-a-bouts now have docking lights. Boat operators should be aware that these are NOT running lights and should only be used when you are approaching a dock. On the open water, these lights harm the night vision of other boaters and could cause them not to see on-coming boats. Marine Police will issue a citation if you are caught using docking lights on open water. So, be safe, be courteous and save yourself a citation. This way everyone will enjoy boating on our beautiful lake at night.
AquaPaloza and similar boating events are often held on Lake Martin and attract thousands of boaters, both local and from other lakes and states. In any event of this type, the consumption of beer, wine and alcohol is prevalent. Boaters should know that Alabama Marine Police are also prominent on the water during this event and will arrest boat drivers if they are drinking. For your own safety and enjoyment, drivers should not drink and operate a boat.
During large boating events at Kowaliga, the area of Kowaliga Bay from Kowaliga Bridge north to Governor’s Island (approx. one quarter mile) is a NO WAKE zone and is marked by “No Wake” buoys at either end of the zone. Boaters are cautioned to travel at idle speed in this area. Again, Alabama Marine Police patrol this area at night and day during the event and days leading up to the event.
LMRA members are also often called upon to operate shuttle boats during these events.