Getting boaters home safely is a top priority this weekend - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Getting boaters home safely is a top priority this weekend

DMR Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis said kayakers are so low to the ground it's often hard for larger vessels to see them in the water. (Photo source: WLOX) DMR Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis said kayakers are so low to the ground it's often hard for larger vessels to see them in the water. (Photo source: WLOX)
The Department of Marine Resources will be out in force this weekend, making sure everyone who ventures out on a boat comes back to dry land safe and sound. (Photo source: WLOX) The Department of Marine Resources will be out in force this weekend, making sure everyone who ventures out on a boat comes back to dry land safe and sound. (Photo source: WLOX)
The Coast Guard and the National Park Service will also have extra officers on the water this busy holiday weekend. (Photo source: WLOX) The Coast Guard and the National Park Service will also have extra officers on the water this busy holiday weekend. (Photo source: WLOX)
MISSISSIPPI SOUND (WLOX) -

During busy holidays, danger lurks on the highways. But it can also be found on the water as well. That's why the Department of Marine Resources will be out in force this weekend, making sure everyone who ventures out on a boat comes back to dry land safe and sound.

Heading out on patrol Friday, our first destination was Biloxi Back Bay.  Kyle Wilkerson is the DMR patrol captain. 

"We're going to do a safety compliance check, make sure they have all their life jackets, flare kits and all their pertinent information that we need to look at. Just a common occurrence out here," Wilkerson explained.

The boaters took the stop in stride, complete with humor. Everything checked out, and Captain William Stevenson was proud. 

"I believe in the safety gear. I'm on old sailor, so for me, safety on the water is of utmost importance," Stevenson said. "Love being out here. It's a lot of fun, but I'm protecting my family."

Certain problems have been around for a long time: Inattentive boaters, People drinking too much alcohol, and speeding. But there's one problem that is growing: big versus small.

"The problem with kayakers is they are so low to the ground and these larger vessels, when they're up on a plane moving real fast, they are hard to see them," DMR Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis explained. "We want to remind boaters that they are out there and they are sharing the waters."

Kayakers, like John Naylor, agree.

"“We've had some instances where they have caused us some problems, but in this area, they seem to do real well."

Our next stop was Horn Island.

"We're going to check and see what kind of fish they are catching and just do a safety check on them," Wilkerson said. 

The fish, including a huge stingray and a small shark were fine. So was the safety equipment. 

"I feel it's very important because I've been out here during some really big storms where I've been wearing my life jacket, even though it's not required while I'm motoring around on the boat. So safety is imperative out here," said Josh Nenortas, the captain of the vessel. 

One boater was not so safe and received a stern warning from the chief. But safety is rewarded. Some kids riding a tube, strapped in tight and wearing life jackets, were given coupons for free ice cream.

In addition to the DMR, the Coast Guard and the National Park Service will also have extra officers on the water this busy holiday weekend.

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