Deputies preparing for busy weekend on the water

Allegan County

SAUGATUCK, Mich. (WOOD) — The heat is on. So much so, even a day at the beach requires some protection from the sun.

“A big hat, an umbrella, and positioned to get some wind,” Bob Gulik said as he described his method for staying cool in the 90 degree-plus heat on the beach at Saugatuck State Park Friday afternoon.

Those are just a few of the common sense measures needed during the hot pre-holiday weekend. The same goes for those on the water.

Allegan County Marine Deputy Tom Achterhof said the weekend before July 4 is one of the department’s biggest weekends, along with the weekend of the Saugatuck Venetian Festival.

One of the biggest problems deputies see is boat operators who don’t know the rules of the water. 

“(The) biggest thing is that you’ve got to watch out for others, you got boats pulling in and out of launches all the time and you’ve got people coming out here who are new to boats,” said Allegan County Marine Deputy Cory Blain.

Boat operators also need to make sure there are enough life jackets — one for everyone — on board. Children under the age of six need to have one on, as do anyone on a Jet Ski and other personal water crafts.

“With the (personal water crafts) being as fast as they are, if they fall off and their life jackets aren’t properly attached, there’s a possibility they could come right out of it,” Achterhof said.

Deputies will also be on the lookout for drunk boaters. One thing Achterhof has noticed is that after years of repeating their message time and time again, boaters are heeding warnings about drunk boating.

“Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen the use of designated drivers increase on boats. A lot of people that we stop, they all have somebody who’s in control of the boat that hasn’t been drinking that day,” said Achterhof. “Be responsible. Use designated drivers as often as you can. Watch what you eat. Watch what you drink. Make sure your hydrating yourself this weekend.”

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