Highway Patrol trains boaters safety in a dangerous sport

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SUNRISE BEACH - Boaters gathered Saturday for a Missouri State Highway Patrol boating safety course. The MSHP held a similar course Friday. 

The training was free to attendees. Completion of the course qualified boaters for a boater safety certification card. 

Greg Hammond, sales associate at Advantage Marine, the facility that held the training, said it was an impressive turnout.  

Hammond said the 22 attendees ranged from "a 12-year-old girl that got up at 3 o'clock this morning because she was so excited to take this class" to an elderly couple with a brand new boat.

Hammond said the course is one of the most comprehensive he's seen on boating safety.

"It covers most of the laws, boating procedures, how to handle a boat," he said. "People ask questions, they're able to interact with the water patrol."

Hammond, a longtime boater who's had property near the lake for about 40 years, said as long as people know how to boat safely, it can be a lot of fun.

"Boats don't have brakes, and they need to remember that and we don't have turn signals like we do when we're out on the highway," Hammond said. "I've had people that's told me, numerous times, 'I don't need any instruction, I can drive it, I'm fine,' and a week later I'm down on a Sunday afternoon working with 'em," he said. 

Hammond said training is important for everyone, especially at a crowded place like the Lake of the Ozarks. 

"You have to drive more defensively here, and you've got to watch speed and you've just got to pay attention 360 degrees of what's going on around you," he said.