Lake Norman Marine Commissioners are encouraged by the high turnout for boater safety courses this season, and particularly by the number of students over the age of 26, they said at their monthly meeting Monday. Also at the meeting, at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in Mooresville, commissioners got reports on water quality, and learned the state would not be purchasing any grass-eating carp this year to help battle invasive hydrilla weeds.
A state law that took effect in May 2010 requires anyone under age 26 to complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) safety course before operating boats or personal watercraft with motors of 10 horsepower and above. But so far this season, 69 of the 121 students who have completed classes have been 26 or older, Russ Kline with the Lake Norman Power Squadron told Marine Commissioners Monday night.
Marine Commission Chair Ron Shoultz said he was pleased to hear boaters are taking safety seriously, and particularly pleased to hear more older boaters are electing to take safety courses.
The youngest boater to complete a course was 13, and the oldest was 76, Mr. Kline said. And the pass rate among students ages 16 and younger was lower than the pass rate among older students.
In addition to the boater safety courses, the squadron has performed safety inspections on about 130 boats, and about 86 percent passed, Mr. Kline said. Those that didn’t pass typically failed because of expired registration, insufficient lighting, and poor overall condition, he said. Inspectors also found gas leaks on several boats, he said, which can be incredibly dangerous.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Dave Caldwell with Mecklenburg County Water Quality reported that the water quality for Lake Norman in both March and May was “very good,” and is “much better” than that of nearby Lake Wylie and Mountain Island Lake.
“Lake Norman is an extremely clean reservoir and a lot of people don’t realize the lengths we go to to keep it that way,” Mr. Shoultz said.
Assistant Director for the Marine Commission Bob Elliott said the state won’t be purchasing grass carp this year, because demand is high and supply is low. Since 2004, the Commission has purchased the hydrilla-eating fish to help control the growth of the invasive weed.
But because of the warm winter, and large orders for the fish in Florida, Texas and South Carolina, supplies have been depleted, Mr. Elliott said.
“We think Lake Norman, Lake Wylie and Mountain Island Lake will be ok this year because we have been doing it since 2004,” he said, “but next year, we should try to get our orders in earlier.”
Commission member Dan Stehl, who represents Mecklenburg County, said new buoys have been placed in Lake Norman prohibiting boaters from anchoring within 300 yards of the I-77 north and south causeways.
RENTAL BOAT COMMITTEE
John Marino, the commissioner representing Catawba County, chairs a committee formed in February to look at standardizing rules for boat rentals. The committee includes rental company owners and public safety officers, and currently a small subcommittee is working “feverishly” to write up an ordinance for review by marine commissioners. The committee expects to have a definitive course by the commission’s July meeting, Mr. Marino said.
Lake Norman Marine Commission, lnmc.org
March 13, 2012, “Committee wants to standardize rental boat safety rules.”
March 1, 2012: “New committee to develop rules for boat rentals”
Sept. 13, 2011: “Boat rental companies oppose local rules for renters”