FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. –
The Smith Mountain Lake Water Safety Council is reminding boaters that law enforcement will be on the lookout for speeders, reckless drivers and drunken operators this holiday weekend. The council is also asking boaters to obey a no-wake zone on the lake before and after the fireworks show.
This Saturday starting at 8 p.m., there is a temporary no-wake zone in place on the lake for everyone who wants to watch fireworks from the water. The no-wake zone is about a one-mile radius, extending up the Craddock, Roanoke and Blackwater Creek between Bernard's Landing, Parkway Marina and Vista Pointe.
Since there will be about 3,000 boats on the lake all trying to leave at the same time once the show is over, Water Safety Council member Randy Stow said the congested boat traffic can be dangerous.
Stow and other volunteers will be stationed around the no-wake zone perimeter in boats with flashing amber lights so boaters know where to slow down.
“Have them come in slowly so they’re not disturbing other boats," Stow said. "Then, more importantly, in the evening after the fireworks have ended, to exit the area safely.”
Stow added that if everyone rushes home after the show, the waves can be hazardous for other boaters, swimmers or even people on docks.
“One boat making a wake is one thing, but two boats making a wake, those wakes can get on top of each other and increase the height of them," Stoso when you have multiple boats it can be a real a hazard," Stow said.
Another council member, Jerry Hale, said that driving at night makes the situation even more precarious.
“Anybody who’s been out at night knows that it takes every bit of your concentration to know where you are, to simply find your way home because everything looks different at night and particularly to be able to monitor the boat traffic that's going on around you," Hale said.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Bedford and Franklin County Sheriff's Office will have officers patrolling the lake, looking for boaters who may be speeding, driving recklessly or drinking and driving.
Stow and other no-wake zone volunteers will report suspicious activity, as well.
“Have all the fun you want to, but keep a constant lookout and know what's around you and just be safe," Stow said. "Always operate at a safe speed.”