Boaters on notice after high water levels reveal hazards in the water

Published: Jul. 3, 2019 at 11:10 PM EDT
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(07/03/2019) - Boaters and landlubbers alike beware: High water levels on the Saginaw River can create hazards for those near the docks or out on the water.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Marine Enforcement Division provided some timely advice on how to safely navigate the waters this holiday weekend.

"Everyday this week we're going to be out," said boater Pat West. "The boat just got remodeled so we're going to have some fun."

Sunshine and warmer weather mean there will be a lot of boaters taking to the water this holiday weekend, including Cody Hawkins who bought his boat three years ago.

"It was really nice, nice and flat like glass," he said after returning from an afternoon on the river.

A river that looks nice can be hiding some danger under water.

"Those high waters are causing the currents underneath to move those really really big logs or deadhead. Those are more prevalent this year," said DNR Conservation Officer Adam Beuthin.

He said coming up on a deadhead in the water could have serious consequences.

"It could toss everybody overboard or rip a boat in half," Beuthin said.

The best defense? Keeping a sharp eye out for objects in the water.

"My advice, always keep a life jacket on," Beuthin said. "You want to be prepared, and you want to be able to help either yourself or someone else."

He offered the quick course of action for responding to a water emergency.

"Throw them a device, anything that will stay buoyant," Beuthin said. "If you're not an experienced swimmer, if you try to help them , it could endanger your life as well."

The high water levels can also pose dangers to unsuspecting individuals waiting at the docks or onshore, observing no-wake zones is critical.

Those who don't observe the no-wake zone can expect to get a ticket.

Electric shock drowning is also a concern at docks or marinas with electric boat lifts.

While for many this holiday may be the first opportunity they've had to spend time on the water in summer like weather, Hawkins said doing so safely is key.

"Just pay attention to the stumps. You don't want to wreck your lower prop. It will wreck your whole weekend," he said.