Washington’s waterfront dock attendant gives advice for Labor Day boaters

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WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Many people across the East are taking to the water this Labor Day weekend.

But we’re also seeing how time on and in the water comes with risks.

John Foote died in the waters of the Pamlico River.

Authorities say he wasn’t wearing a life jacket. 

Andrew Vogel is the Washington Waterfront Dock Attendant.

He says, “If you’re on a boat you need to carry them and you should wear them. They don’t do any good if you don’t have them on.”

Part of preventing accidents means learning the rules of the watery road.

“Here on the waterfront between the two bridges we are in a no-wake zone because of all of the marinas that we have here and a no wake means no wake it doesn’t mean a small wake,” Vogel explains.

Mel Portnoy is a regular here, sailing since 1963. 

“It’s been just a wonderful hobby for us. Being on the water means relaxation and calms me down,” Portnoy says. 

He understands the challenges of the water. 

The ebb and flow, the caution that’s needed and what happens when it’s ignored.

He states, “Too many big boaters, power boaters, that don’t respect the rules of the road and slow down for you as they pass by of course this holiday weekend inebriated voters are all over the place and there’s always stuff floating in the water you have to be careful”

Portnoy says the solution is simple, learn what to do before you actually do it, “Power squadron, the exemplary Coast Guard, people should get involved more with that and learn about it. Some of the things that we’ve heard on the radio from boaters have no clue where they are, people really need to educate themselves.”

With weeks of summer yet to come there’s still time to learn and enjoy the water.

“Weather like this people should be outdoors and the water is a great place to be but you need to be careful boats are dangerous,” Vogel says. 

Washington’s dock attendant would also like to warn people about the risks of consuming alcohol while out on the water. 

Passengers who are inebriated have a higher chance of falling overboard. 

North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Coast Guard offers boating safety guides and courses. 

For more information on NCDPS boating safety guides you can click here. 

For the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Courses you can click here. 

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