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WATCH: How to stay safe while out on the Savannah River

WATCH: How to stay safe while out on the Savannah River



By Nick Lulli.

August 23, 2013.


“We’re still doing the Canal,” explained Cole Watkins, owner of Cole Watkins Tours. “It won’t get affected by the high water levels. The lake is good.”

Watkins is running fewer and fewer kayak tours in the Savannah River basin, thanks to the waterway’s rapid rise. But there is definitely something he doesn’t leave shore without.

“This is your personal floatation device,” demonstrated Watkins. “You want to make sure all your straps are working. It’s on tight, too tight.”

He said a life jacket is a critical thing to have, especially with people still wanting to go out on the river, despite the flooding. The most recent event, just Wednesday night, when an Aiken County family’s canoe overturned. Fortunately, they’re okay, but it’s the fourth reported river rescue this month.

“I know it’s putting our rescue teams, whoever’s going out there to get them, they’re doing a great job,” said Watkins. “It’s putting them in danger too, sending them out there, it’s really just causing a big headache for anybody.”

Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus said she doesn’t know when that headache is going away.

“Boaters, you need to be careful, this river’s moving fast again, and we’re not quite sure where it’s going to end up,” she stressed.

And Watkins said now is not the time for beginners to be testing the waters.

“When the water’s up like this, we really need to stay off the rapids,” explained Watkins. “Where it goes down near North Augusta, it really can get dangerous, it’s a lot more deceptive than people think.”

Watkins also recommends getting a hand pump that can drain your boat if it begins to take on water. He also said it’s a good idea to have a waterproof carrying device for your cell phone.

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