Boater safety course offered in West Point - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Boater safety course offered in West Point

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WEST POINT, GA (WTVM) -

It was a scary sight in St. Petersburg, Fla, Monday afternoon.

A boat hit a wake, tossing two men into Tampa Bay, and then turned in a tight circle without an operator for more than hour until it ran out of gas.

Thankfully, the men involved ended up with minor injuries, but the situation easily could have been avoided using the proper safety equipment, including a wrist lanyard attached to a motor "kill switch."

"Wearing a lanyard is definitely one of the tips we go over in this course. Very easily his own boat could have come around and killed him," explains Rocky Millenbine.

Millenbine is an instructor of the Personal Watercraft and Boating Safety Course sponsored by The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 81 and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at West Point Lake.

This course meets Georgia's law that requires completion of a safe boating course for children ages 12 - 15 who wish to operate a personal watercraft or boat without adult supervision.

For Alabama residents, this certificate will exempt them from taking the written test when obtaining a boating license.

"Most people believe you they're going to go out there and have a great day on the lake and they can leave all worries behind, but that's not the case. You still have to be very vigilant when you're out on the water," says Millenbine.

No matter how much experience you have, it's always a good idea to review common boater safety tips including: having the proper number of life jackets, watching the weather, developing a float plan, and most importantly, taking a boater safety course.

"The product of unsafe operation is fatalities, drowning and that's an eye-opening thing for people to hear, so it's important to us that people are safe when they operate because we want to eliminate drowning at all cost," explains Millenbine.

The two part class is offered throughout the boating season on Tuesday and Thursday nights and is $15 to participate.

You may sign up by contacting the West Point Project Management Office at 706-645-2937.

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