This Memorial Day weekend Lake Tahoe's waters are sure to be rippling with boat wakes and the happy cries of those sailing along with the vessels. But with so many boaters out, safety is always a high priority.
"Boating during Memorial Day weekend means being a more responsible boat operator," California Department of Boating and Waterways acting director Lucia Becerra said in statement. "Operators may have people on board their vessels who do not normally boat. Familiarizing passengers with the location of safety equipment and how to be safe aboard will decrease the likelihood of being involved in a boating accident."
Memorial Day weekend is typically Lake Tahoe's first busy weekend of the boating season. With the increase in water-borne traffic, law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard are urging boaters to be safe.
"We always see a pretty good bump for Memorial Day," said Pete Brumis, spokesman for the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
Though a chance of snow and temperatures below 50 degrees are forecasted for Friday and Saturday, the rest of the weekend is expected to be warm and sunny, according to weather reports.
Agencies including El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxillary will have boats on the water this weekend to watch out for everything from boaters without lifejackets to drunk boat operators.
"As we do every year, we want to start off by educating people about the hazards of Lake Tahoe," said Les Lovell, a marine officer for El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.
The cold water this time of year is one of the biggest dangers to boaters, said Mort Meiers, public education officer for the Coast Guard Auxillary in South Lake Tahoe.
"There's been some really sad situations," Meiers said. "The coldness of the water can be really tragic."
It's imperative that children always wear life jackets and that adults riding in boats always have them handy, Meiers said.
Another danger is the shifting conditions on Lake Tahoe.
"As the day goes on, the wind can come up and very dangerous conditions can develop," Meiers said.
To help boaters understand the dangers and be prepared, the Coast Guard Auxillary will offer boating safety classes once per month, June through August.
Reducing backups at boat inspections
The Tahoe Resource Conservation District is expecting a holiday weekend rush to the boat inspections, Brumis said. But after such a warm spring, many locals and Tahoe regulars have already gotten their boats in the water, which should help lessen the wait, he added.
Boaters who are coming to the lake and want to avoid backups at the inspection stations can check out tahoeboatinspections.com or follow @tahoeboating on Twitter for updates on where the shortest lines will be.
"We're trying to be really proactive about it and get these people these messages as they're on their way up," Brumis said.
TRCD is encouraging those with non-motorized boats to clean, drain and dry their equipment before launching in Lake Tahoe.