▶️ New boater safety a concern as more people head to the lakes

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Boat rental operations are busier than usual this summer as people look for activities that aren’t shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.

All boat operators in Oregon are required to take a course and pass a test to earn a Boater Education Card, except people who rent boats and receive a dockside safety checklist.

“We’ve been extremely busy. You need reservations to get a boat this year,” said Jim Cyr of the Cove Corner Store.

Cyr said he has been renting boats for nearly 30 years.

“We can get you all your safety equipment, make sure that you are legal for the day,” he said. “We take care of all that. Get you down on the water, show you how everything works and send you on your way.”

“We’ve got 20 people here. We came from Portland, we are staying at Black Butte,” said Brandon Hernden. “There’s not a lot to do right now so we’ve got a boat over there for tubing and we’ve got this one here for the kids to play on and then we’ve got people on the beach. It’s going to be really great.”

“Every person who rents a boat has a different skill level. Sometimes boaters go in and they know absolutely nothing. They don’t know how to turn the key,” said Randy Henry, Boater Education Coordinator with the Oregon State Marine Board. “Other boaters are very experienced. They just don’t have a working boat at the moment or they are from out of town.”

The Oregon State Marine Board has received a couple of complaints this year about rental boats at Lake Billy Chinook.

“I had an incident recently where the individual was concerned because the boat broke down. They felt that the safety discussion hadn’t been very thorough,” Henry said.

The Marine Board requested local law enforcement review regulations with the boat rental operator and staff.

“We rent boats all the time to people who have never rented or run a boat and we’ve never had an accident. Anybody can do it. It’s like driving a car,” Cyr said.

“We’ve rented these boats before so we are ready to hit the lake and stay cool today,” Hernden said.

If you rent a boat and don’t have a Boater Education Card which proves you’ve been through a training course, boat rental operators will give you a “crash course” on minimal safety standards.

Here’s a couple of tips:

Boats don’t have brakes.

Stay away from other boats and people.

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