Boaters can learn a few things from statistics

by Gus Gustafson

According to a report published by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, in 2009, there were 154 boating accidents statewide. The majority, 133, were classified as non-fatal, but sadly, 21 accidents accounted for 22 deaths.

Furthermore, there were 203 vessels involved in 154 accidents, which caused 104 people to require medical treatment.

Lake Norman had 12 boating accidents, ranking it second in the state behind the Intracoastal Waterway, with 20 accidents. The good news is there were no fatal boating accidents listed for Lake Norman in the 2009 report.

Statewide, the leading type of fatal accidents occurred because the victim jumped or fell overboard. The two main types of non-fatal accidents were collisions with other vessels and/or collisions with fixed objects. Operator inattention, operator inexperience and careless/reckless operation were the leading causes of non-fatal accidents.

The number of students completing boater education courses jumped dramatically in 2009 – 17,328 compared to 4,363 in 2008.

The new 2010 regulation requiring boat operators younger than 26 to complete an approved boating safety course was a major factor.

The regulation is long overdue, as evidenced by the fact that only 25 percent of 200 boat operators involved in fatal and non-fatal accidents had completed a boating safety course.

The 2009 report should be a red flag to everyone, particularly the statistics concerning operator inattention and carelessness/reckless driving and the indication that 75 percent of all the boaters on our waterways have not completed an approved boat safety course.

Remember the saying: “Safe boating is no accident.” Do your part to make our waterways a safer place to navigate and enjoy.

Tips from Capt. Gus

For details about approved boating safety courses, visit the following web sites:
• N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission,;
• U.S. Power Squadron,;
• U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary,;
• Lighthouse Marine Service,

Upcoming events

I’ll conduct a free 90-minute fishing seminar titled, “Winter Striped Bass Fishing – How to Catch Lake Norman Striped Bass all Winter” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, at Gander Mountain, 236 Norman Station Blvd. Mooresville. Details: 704-658-0822.

Hot spots of the week

Stripers are actively feeding in the cooler water above the N.C. 150 bridge. Bass fishing, particularly spotted bass, has been excellent all fall. Best bets are coves with brush and the middle of creek channels where large schools are hitting live and artificial baits. People also are catching white perch incidentally while fishing for spots. Blue and flathead catfish are still hitting prepared and cut baits in coves and around boat docks. The water level is about 4.1 feet below full pond, and the water surface temperature is in the mid- to high 60s.

Boats on Lake Norman
2009 ended with a total of 368,004 boats registered throughout the state, an increase of 42,513 over 2008, according to North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission statistics. Closer to home, 43,339 boats were registered in the four counties that touch Lake Norman:
Mecklenburg    16,741
Iredell    12,724
Catawba    8,129
Lincoln    5,745

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. His website is Contact him at 704-617-6812 or Gus@Lake

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