Travis County Lake Patrol gearing up for busy summer after record boat sales

Travis County

AUSTIN (KXAN) —The lake has served as an escape for many people during the pandemic, but with more people getting the vaccine and restrictions being lifted, what can we expect on the lakes this summer?

“Got to get out here earlier than everybody else because it can get really busy really fast,” said Colt Lyncher, who grew up on Lake Travis and knows the summer can be crowded.

Travis County Sheriff’s deputy Joseph Fair is gearing up for those busy days.

“On a normal weekend we have two patrol boats,” said Fair.

Could there be more people out on the lakes this year as more people get their vaccines? Fair says it’s too early to tell, but it will be crowded regardless.

“I don’t know what numbers will increase to this year to last year, but last year there were a ton of new boat owners,” said Fair. “You talk to any boat sales company in the area and they are going to tell you sales increased quite a bit.”

Regardless of how many people show up, Fair says boater safety is still top priority. That’s why the Travis County Sheriff’s Office Lake Patrol will be out giving random safety inspections.

“In that safety inspection we are looking for certain equipment that is required,” said Fair. “You have to have a life jacket for everyone on board that fits, you have to have a noise making device be it a horn or a whistle.”

Fire extinguishers and lights that work are also required if you are driving at night, and remember, not just anyone can operate a boat.

“If you are born after Sept. 1, 1993 you are required to have a boaters safety class,” said Fair.

Fair says being vigilant and respecting other boaters is the key to a fun and safe time.

Avoiding crowded areas on the lake can be safer, as well.

“As fishermen that is one of the big things,” said Lynchner. “Don’t want to be around a lot of people just because of the fish.”

Fair says boaters that are new to a lake should also read up on the area and get to know the layout of the lake. On larger lakes if you get lost or run out of gas it can make it easier for his team to locate someone and help.

Fair also warns of lakes like Lake Travis that aren’t constant level.

“We have islands that are popping up off Mansfield Dam,” said Fair. “Some of the points where there are turns on the lake can come up and it gets shallow, so my suggestion is drive in the middle of the lake.”

Fair says you should always know the rules and regulations before you get out on the water.

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