JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — With great weather and a three-day holiday weekend, people are hitting the water despite prices being up.
“All of us are pitching in a little more. All the homies are helping get more gas money into the tank, but it is costing about double,” John Mullins told News Channel 11 at Sonny’s Marina. “So we just go get it at the gas station like I’m not getting it at any marinas.”
Another boater at Jay’s Boat Dock told us this holiday has cost her about $1,000 more than last.
“Gas is like $6 a gallon,” Ruby Young told us as she filled up her pontoon boat. “There have been a lot of boaters this year. We’ve noticed that with the lake up. It’s been down a long time.”
This year is also the first year the lake levels are back up on Boone Lake.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has also upped patrols.
“It’s kind of weather dependent. And with these warm, sunny days, usually brings out quite a bit of boaters and boating activity,” said TWRA Sgt. David Carpenter. “I would say there’s been quite a bit of increase in boat traffic for sure that I’ve seen.”
Several new boating laws were enacted before the Fourth of July holiday. One of the most prominent changes: boating under the influence.
“If they have a DUI and have received a DUI in the past ten years, that can be treated as a second offense BUI,” Carpenter said.
Another change: those born after January 1, 1989, must complete the TWRA Boating Safety Exam in order to operate any motorized watercraft.
“People are more familiar with the navigational rules, how to pass when to pass each other and it prevents potentially incidents from occurring because they’re safely passing and operating a boat,” Carpenter explained.
Mullins thinks the certification requirement is a good idea.
“There needs to be a vetting process with more boaters because there are a lot of close encounters that we’ve had out here already this year,” Mullins said.” So we tend to go early in the morning or late in the evening. They kind of stay away from that except on today.”
Another new law impacts watersports and how close they can be to the waterline.
“They have to be 200 feet from any shoreline or structure located on the shore in the water before they can wake surf or wakeboard,” Carpenter said. “And then they can’t wake surf or wakeboard in any coves that are more narrow than 400 feet.”
This could pose a challenge for those on Boone Lake.
“Boone Lake is quite a bit more narrow than the other area lakes. And we do get a lot of complaints from dock owners and shoreline owners that have degradation issues where they’re constantly receiving big, big wakes to cause damage to either eroding the shoreline or causing damage to the docks,” said Carpenter.
As of Monday afternoon, TWRA didn’t have any major incidents to report.