The Union Recorder

Opinion

August 25, 2012

Boat operators must use running lights at night

MILLEDGEVILLE — I am a long-time resident of Milledgeville and I reside on Lake Sinclair. I am an avid fisherman and boater. I am on the lake four to five times a week in the spring and summer months and two to three times a week in the fall and winter.

I often fish at night, and in recent years I have noticed a disturbingly dangerous trend that seems to be occurring more and more. Myself and a long-time fishing buddy have become so frustrated with this occurrence that we have approached Georgia DNR personnel, and still nothing has been done. I cannot recall a time on the lake at night that I did not see a boat operating with no running lights on it.

Careless boaters, operating a boat at night with no running lights is the most prevalent water hazard currently on Lake Sinclair. Anyone who has been on the lake at night can attest to the fact that, even with proper lighting, it takes a watchful eye to identify oncoming boats because of the number of lights on the banks of the lake.

Operating a boat at night with no running lights or improper lighting is not only illegal and dangerous: In my opinion, it is wanton endangerment of every boat operator on the lake and should be enforced as such. It has become such a common occurrence that one local night tournament actually stopped having its events.

After my most recent “close call,” my friend and I decided that writing to you may raise awareness and prevent the next boating death on Lake Sinclair. It is a matter of self-preservation. As much as I and my friend are on the lake, we don’t want to be the next statistic. We have seen first-hand, the outcome of boaters operating watercraft on the lake with no running lights. We were the last people to see a pair of fisherman a few years ago that, shortly after they went out of our sight, they were struck and killed by another boat near Island Creek because they had no running lights.

I have had several “close calls” in the past where I almost ran into a boat at night because it was under power on the lake with no running lights on the boat or improper lighting on the boat. Several times I have run across a boat’s wake, and that was the only thing that alerted me to it being close because they had no lights on their boat. I love to fish, but I would prefer not to die while doing it.

Please bring attention to this disturbing occurrence before someone else is killed.

Paul M. Mills

Milledgeville

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