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Officials emphasize safety on the water for Independence Day

Posted on Monday, July 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Lake levels at Normandy Reservoir are healthy this summer and area boaters are taking advantage – hitting the popular summer watering hole to water ski, tube, fish and enjoy other recreation activities.

But Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officials are cautioning everyone to take the proper precautions while on the water.

“We are looking to make sure the proper registrations are on the boat and making sure all children have life jackets on and that there are enough life jackets on the boats,” said Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency boating officer Danny Ferrell, who also serves as an investigator with the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department.

TWRA officers across the state set out across reservoirs over the weekend as part of the fifth annual Operation Dry Water – putting a heavy emphasis on boating under the influence enforcement.

Ferrell said locally boaters on Normandy Lake are “pretty good here” but that officers are still watching.

“We are also checking for boating under the influence (BUI) and making sure the drivers are capable or that there is a designated driver for the boats.”

BUI is very similar to a DUI, and could lead to fines, jail time, boat impoundment and loss of boat privileges, according to the TWRA website. Much like driving, a blood alcohol level of .08 constitutes boating under the influence.

Independence Day falls on Thursday and the long upcoming weekend is expected to bring plenty of traffic to Normandy, Tims Ford and Woods Reservoir.

“The lakes will fill up for Fourth of July weekend,” explained Ferrell. “Some people will be looking to get out in their boats for the first time this year.

Danny Ferrell

TWRA boating officer Danny Ferrell will be patrolling Normandy Reservoir on Independence Day and throughout the extended holiday weekend to enforce life jacket and other boating laws. Ferrell, a part-time boating officer, is also an investigator with the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department. (Staff photo by Josh Peterson)

If you will be drinking make sure you have a designated driver.”

In addition to BUI enforcement, Ferrell said he will be concentrating on life jackets and other safety devices.

“Children 12 and under have to have [a life jacket] on at all times unless anchored,” said Ferrell, who has been a boating safety officer for 11 years. “Adults don’t have to have them on but they have to be in the boat in case they are needed. Throw cushions have to be on the boat in case someone were to fall out you could throw that cushion out to them to keep them up.”

In 2012, TWRA boating officers logged 81,187 boating-enforcement hours – 51,232 of which came on the water. Last year officers issued 1,828 citations, 1,723 warnings and made 131 BUI arrests. TWRA inspected 76,848 vessels in 2012.

For more information about boating laws and regulations, visit