Langley – It is no secret that the Fourth of July holiday is also the most popular time for visitors to Grand and Hudson lakes in Northeast Oklahoma.
Summer weather, fireworks displays, family gatherings and other holiday celebrations will draw thousands to the lakes for extended stays in conjunction with the 2015 holiday, which falls on a Saturday this year.
However, in the midst of all the celebrations, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department wants to remind boaters to take a few moments to consider safety on the water.
GRDA Police remind lake visitors to boat safe, smart and sober during holiday weekend
Remember, “boating safe, smart and sober” is still the very best way to create enjoyable, lasting memories of your time at the lake.
One very special message the GRDA Police share with Grand Lake visitors each Fourth of July is the reminder that special boating rules will be in effect for the Duck Creek arm of the lake.
The Duck Creek Boating Rules are as follows:
- All watercraft wider than 8.5 feet shall operate at “Idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek. (If the vessel is wider than 8.5 feet, Duck Creek is no wake for the vessel at all times regardless of length).
- All watercraft longer than 30 feet shall operate at “Idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek. (If the vessel is longer than 30 feet, Duck Creek is no wake for the vessel at all times regardless of width).
- All watercraft smaller than both measurements listed above may operate on plane not to exceed 30 mph in Duck Creek from official sunrise to official sunset.
- All watercraft must “Idle” and avoid producing a wake from official sunset to official sunrise (night time) in Duck Creek between May 1 and Oct 1. (No wake in Duck Creek for all vessels at night).
- All Watercraft must stay to the right of the center lane of buoys and at least 150 feet away from any dock, breakwater, structure, or shoreline.
- On the actual day of the Duck Creek Fireworks, all watercraft shall operate at “Idle” and avoid producing a wake at all times in Duck Creek (all day, all night).
- The area known as “The Turn” (area near Harbor’s View and Ugly John’s) is a no wake zone for all vessels at all times.
- Areas north of “The Turn” are No Skiing areas, and the vessel size restrictions mentioned above apply to this area as well.
Heavy rains across the region in the last several weeks led to high water inflows into the Grand River System and elevated lake levels.
Though Grand and Hudson are both returning, slowly, to normal levels, both will still be above normal during the holiday weekend.
Due to that, the GRDA Police Department continues to remind boaters to use extra caution on the water, especially if they plan on boating in unfamiliar areas of the lake.
Other tips to keep in mind if boating during times of elevated lake levels:
- Be mindful of your boat wake and proceed with caution in areas near structures. When lake levels are elevated boat wakes can cause damage to structures that are normally above the shoreline.
- Stay away from floodgates and spillways. There is a chance that floodgates could be open at both Pensacola Dam (Grand Lake) and Robert S. Kerr Dam (Lake Hudson) as you are boating. If that is the case, please observe the buoys designating the spillway areas and allow plenty of distance between those locations and your boat. Also, please use common sense and stay away from areas below floodgates where water is being released.
Finally, GRDA Police continues to stress the dangers of drinking and boating. According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, alcohol use was the leading factor in 21% of recreational boater deaths in 2014.
“It’s just a bad idea,” said GRDA Assistant General Manager/Chief of Law Enforcement and Lake Operations Brian Edwards. “It can impair your judgment, your depth perception and overall ability to operate your vessel. Plus, it creates a dangerous situation not only for you but for your passengers and everyone else in the water around you.
Edwards added that GRDA’s goal is for everyone to enjoy a wonderful, safe outing on the water over the holiday, and boating safe, boating smart and boating sober makes that possible.
“Come have a great time on the water,” he added, “but play safe so you can come back again too.”