Escanaba's Aronson Island Boat Launch opened today. Last week, the North Shore Boat Launch also opened for the year to boating traffic. It can only mean one thing - boating season is here. With the calender reading only April 2, this is probably one of the earliest dates boats will be able to get on the water in recent memory.
Whether you use a boat for fishing or just for pleasure, don't forget to have respect for the water. Delta County is blessed by its water resources. In fact, Delta County has more shoreline than any other county in Michigan. It is a valuable resource. Unfortunately, it can also be a source of tragedy.
Nearly every year, someone loses their life because of carelessness on the water. Often, this is due to reckless or careless boating.
With just a few simple precautions and a healthy dose of common sense, many of these tragic deaths could have been prevented.
Area law enforcement officials know this better than anyone, particularly the Delta County Sheriff's Department. Its Marine Patrol are some of the law enforcement officers responsible for enforcing the rules of the water. The department is asking boaters to take the time to check their vessels before venturing out this year. Their suggestions include:
l Check the condition of your life jackets. Make sure that there is one properly fitting life jacket for every person on board and that they are in good condition. Check for discoloration, dry rot, and mildew; popped seams and tears in the fabric; and that the straps, buckles, and zippers still work.
l Check equipment to make sure it is in good working order. This includes items like visual distress signals, sound-producing devices, navigation lights, bilge pumps, ventilation blowers, and fire extinguishers.
l Check to make sure navigation charts are on board and updated to the most current conditions.
And remember, drunken boating is just as deadly - and illegal - as drunken driving.
Use common sense on the water. The life you save could be your own.