Labor Day not the end of boating season on Lake Marion


Labor Day is one of the top-three weekends for boaters on Lake Marion, according to Robert McCullough of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Section.

"We will have some extra patrols; everybody will be out working," he said Wednesday.

In addition to patrolling the lake, SCDNR will be doing courtesy boat inspections from 10 a.m. to noon at Alex Harvin Landing, south of Manning on S.C. 260.

"We want everybody to have a safe weekend, so we will be out there trying to have high visibility so everybody slows down a little bit, pays attention and doesn't drink and drive," McCullough said.

Jim Whitaker said Labor Day isn't always a big deal at Pack's Landing, near Rimini.

"Sometimes it's busy, and sometimes it's like a regular weekend," he said. "Business drops way off after the Fourth of July; March, April, May and June is our busy time of year."

Whitaker said even though the store isn't expecting a huge rush over the weekend, the grill will be fired up and ready to serve customers who do visit. The menu usually includes hot dogs, hamburgers, fried fish and cold sandwiches, as well as an occasional catfish, he said.

McCullough said the lake generally has three big weekends: Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

"Labor Day does tend to be the last hurrah," he said.

But that doesn't mean the lake won't stay busy.

"Around here, it doesn't stop boating season, but everybody plans to go out for that end of summer, that kind of thing," McCullough said. "It drops but not as much as you would think because we don't get that cold."

He said South Carolina is a boating state, and people like to boat all year.

"Of course, it can be 70 degrees in December, and people love to go out," he added.

Whitaker said even though Pack's Landing is slow this time of year, he thinks business is better now than it was prior to the Great Recession a decade ago.

"We have a lot of young people coming in, and they like us, and we like them, and they bring us more business," said Whitaker, who has worked at Pack's Landing for 16 years.

McCullough said SCDNR will be watching for drinking and driving and being safe.

"We want to have people enjoying themselves," he said.

He also reminded boaters to have the proper life jackets on board.

"You have to have life vests that fit everybody on the boat," he said. "One that fits me won't fit a 5-year old."

McCullough said anyone under 12 years old must wear a life jacket in boats 14 feet or shorter.

The SCDNR recommends everybody wear a vest, he said.

"I can tell you anecdotally that about 75 to 80 percent of boating fatalities would be non-fatalities if they had a vest on," McCullough said.