North Myrtle Beach boat club, organizations emphasize the importance of boat safety training

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 8:47 PM EDT
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Freedom Boat Club has members of all experience levels, but according to vice president of operations Karen Berry, most are newcomers.

“For the most part, it’s people who have never boated a day in their life,” said Berry.

Those who join the club must go through an extensive training process, including online and in-person courses and one-on-one training with a licensed captain on the water.

“That’s our number one priority, is showing our new members the safety stuff on the boat,” said Captain Cody Massey. “We don’t want them to get out there and be able to drive a boat good, but then if something does happen, not be able to protect themselves or others.”

Although boat safety training is required at Freedom Boat Club, it is not required everywhere. Freedom Boat Club leadership says they often see people on the water without proper training.

“They either just get a boat or try to rent a boat from somewhere, and they don’t know any rules of the road for the water or anything you should probably learn,” said Massey. “So when they get out there, they’re a hazard to others.”

In a statement to WMBF News, a spokesperson from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said the organization has “always emphasized to the boating public the importance of boating safety and the personal responsibility of individuals enrolling in boating safety courses.”

The North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad just announced it will be offering boating safety courses for organizations who request them. They say their goal is always to educate the public.

“We’re just a group of citizens that love to serve our fellow citizens,” said rescue squad spokesperson Greg Richardson at a public safety meeting Monday night.

SCDNR added that “informed and experienced boaters are always better boaters.”

“Whenever you drive a car, you don’t get behind the wheel without taking a driver’s ed class and having to pass a test and things like that,” said Berry. “So why would they allow people to get behind the wheel of a boat without taking some kind of boater safety course?”

Organizations interested in receiving training from the NMB Rescue Squad can reach out on the website, or Facebook or call (843)-272-3144.