Staying safe on the water - - The News for South Mississippi

Staying safe on the water Memorial Day weekend

RANKIN COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Ross Barnett Reservoir is a hot place for boaters to cool off this Memorial Day weekend.  Law enforcement expect large crowds. Officers will be using several intoxilyzers, to make sure no one is drinking behind the wheel of their boat.

"We'll have one of those up river in our mobile command center. We'll have this unit (an intoxilyzer in a Reservoir Patrol squad car) right here is equipped with one that we can take to any landing at any time," explained Reservoir Patrol Chief Perry Waggener.

The "Rez" offers 104 miles of shoreline but there are stumps underwater that can turn a day of fun in the sun into a disaster.

"You boat at your own risk on this lake. There are hazards on this lake. There are channels in the lake. Know where those channels are. Know how to stay in them. Know the area you are boating in, especially after dark," said Waggener.

There must be enough, accessible life jackets or personal floatation devices for everyone on board a boat and jet skiers must wear them at all times.

Waggener says drivers on the water must be mindful of one another. 

That means being courteous and watching for other people in the water, especially skiers or folks on an inner tube.

"They're just like a pedestrian. You are responsible for your vessel, regardless, your wake...everything. Be careful. Know what you're doing," said Waggener.

Sea Tow is available if you become stranded. Franchise owner Dale Shepherd gave a few examples of why he's been called in the past, "Whether they're broken down, just need fuel, a jump start, or possibly stuck in a shallow area." 

Shepherd also rents boats and jet skies. He is booked and expects a busy weekend at Main Harbor, because business is just starting to pick up after a disappointing spring.

"Normally by spring break, it's summer time business for us. This year if wasn't cold, it was raining. So, it drove away a lot of the business," explained Shepherd.

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