Warmer weather has to be just around the corner, and the Grand River Dam Authority hopes to help boaters on their way to a safe season on the lake.
The GRDA held its first free Safe Boating class on Saturday in Langley. About two dozen boaters showed up to learn good safety practices for operating a boat.
State law prohibits children between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age - without a valid driver's license - from operating any vessel powered by a motor of more than 10 horsepower, or sailing vessel 16 feet or longer, without first completing a state-approved boater safety course, according to GRDA spokesman Justin Alberty.
The GRDA courses will allow young boaters to fulfill that requirement, and for the first one, Jason Littlefield of the GRDA Police acted as instructor.
"The classes go over how to trailer a vessel, hot to operate at night, navigation lights, the types of buoys on the water and what they mean, the type of lifejackets to wear in the activity you're involved in," Littlefield said.
Lawrence Kemper lives in Wyoming but just bought a house on Monkey Island.
He attended with his grandsons who live in Missouri.
Kemper has been around boats all of his life but this is the first time he's taken a safety class and says he's learned things he didn't know before.
The safety class is part of a state law passed in 2007.
Kemper's grandchildren said the class has taught them the importance of being smart when out on the water.
"People can get killed, hurt... injuries mostly," Dustin Vencill, 17, said.
"More stuff about boat safety and what to do and what not to do and not to be jacking around on the water and take stuff seriously," 15-year-old Michael Harmon said.
The recent tragedy at Claremore Lake that killed a 19-year old soldier after his boat hit a tree stump can serve as an example, Littlefield says, of the dangers posed on lake waters.
These classes may be required by law for kids but both GRDA and Kemper says it's great for adults, too.
"I think it's well worth while and it's free," he said with a laugh.
Littlefield says another reason to take the course is that, depending on your insurance, you can get anywhere from 10 percent-15 percent off your boat insurance after taking the class.
All courses will be held on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Other scheduled classes:
To register for a course or find out more information, call Lori Starks at 918-256-0644.