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    All across Tennessee the summer boating season is about to begin. The season may be several weeks away on the calendar but Memorial Day kicks off the recreational race for fun in the sun.

    Pontoons and ski boats of all types will come out of hibernation. Many recreational boaters who allow their vessels to sleep silently in marinas, boat houses, garages and out on the side of the driveway will pull the covers off and head to the lake this weekend.

    There are those who own boats but only use them three or four times a year. One of those times---and perhaps the busiest boating weekend of the year---will be the upcoming Memorial Day holiday period. The three-day weekend will see waterways buzzing.

    From fishermen to pleasure boaters, boat ramps will be crowded and parking lots will be full. Campgrounds will be crowded too and the smell of grilled hamburgers will fill the air.

    Itís that time of year. Folks are anxious to head to the lake and put the daily grind in their rearview mirror.

        With any holiday comes increased traffic on both the roads and waterways. If you plan to partake of the seasonís most popular kickoff weekend then donít forget the responsibilities, namely boating safety.

    Rest assured boating patrols from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be out in force. Each year heavy use areas such as the Paris Landing sector of Kentucky Lake draw more enforcement efforts from the agency.

    Several officers from around the area are brought in to saturate sectors of the lake where more boating traffic increases the odds of accidents. Jet skies will be buzzing at the same time small vessels are anchored and folks are floating around on tubes and just enjoying the water.

    The recipe for accidents increases when so many folks converge on a popular area. For that reason expect to see TWRA boating safety officers out in full force. Odds are you will be checked for such things as life jackets, running lights, fire extinguishers or boat registration.

    Before you head out on the water you best formulate a checklist of your own and make sure everything is up to speed before you hit the water. Same goes for fishermen as it does for recreational boaters.

    Strict laws have been in place for many years for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) so that donít drink and drive slogan applies to the waterways too!

    It appears great weather lies ahead as the holiday approaches. Everyone wants to have a good time at the lake so do your part to obey the laws and keep the waterways safe for all concerned.

    Every year all state and federal agencies encourage boaters to wear life jackets. It may sound redundant but most fatalities occur when someone wasnít wearing a life vest. Donít be a statistic. Buckle your seat belt when you ride on the roads and snap up your life vest when you ride on the water.

    Hereís hoping you start the season off on a good note.

Steve McCadams

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