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Choose your beverages wisely on the water

June 30, 2014 at 1:30 a.m.

Be aware of skiers and other boats, especially with the Fourth of July on the horizon.

If you plan to spend a day on the water in your boat this Fourth of July weekend, some words to the wise: pack water, soda or iced tea.

Each year, I question our laws concerning drinking, driving and boating. Why is it unlawful to have an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle but not a boat?

Each year, I get nasty emails explaining to me that I am trying to ruin a good time on the water by bringing up this subject.

I expect to hear from you again, but I feel this water safety information and potential lives saved warrant another round of angry emails.

From June 27 to June 29, law enforcement officers across the U.S. geared up for Operation Dry Water - the nation's boating while intoxicated (BWI) awareness and enforcement campaign.

In 2013, officers from across the country contacted 144,044 recreational boaters and made 290 BWI arrests during the three-day weekend, according to OperationDryWater.org.

Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in recreational boater deaths in the United States. BWI carries the same stiff penalties as DWI, according to a news release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Don't think this is a one-weekend mission. According to Texas Game Wardens, patrols will be ongoing throughout the summer.

"Our purpose is to provide everyone an opportunity to safely enjoy themselves on the water and return home at the end of the day. We will have enhanced Game Warden patrols through the remainder of the summer and our officers will be on high alert for those who choose to place themselves and others in danger by drinking and operating vessels on our public waters," said LTC Danny Shaw, TPWD Law Enforcement Deputy Director, in the news release.

Here are a few more reminders:

TPWD statistics indicate 70 percent of persons who died in a boating accident would be alive today if they had worn a life jacket.

Don't expect to see a guy driving a boat and chugging a cold one while wearing a life jacket.

Fishing Has Been Challenging

We keep waiting and waiting and waiting for the weather to stabilize and allow for good catches of speckled trout, redfish, flounder and offshore species. Sure, there have been impressive catches, but if you ask salty anglers to rate their overall success this summer, most will tell you fishing has been subpar.

Strong south, southwest winds have been the major culprit. In fact, the past three years have ushered in a more westerly flow of air, which wreaks havoc on bay waters. "Sweet southeast" has been absent, and so have steady catches.

The good news is there is plenty of summer left. Weather patterns did not stabilize in 2013 until Fourth of July weekend. Winds calmed, waters greened, and anglers were able to fish and boat in the surf for five days.

I'll take a repeat.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net).

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