Boat owners are being reminded to check and secure their vessels as winter winds have set some anchored vessels loose.
The most visible instance was the so-called "mystery" or "smiley-face" boat on Factory Creek last week. The makeshift boat, which is being built while on the water, drifted off its anchor and into the Lady's Island boat dock, said 1st Sgt. Robbie Smith with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The boat did not cause any damage, he said.
Owners of a 35-foot sailboat anchored off the Port Royal docks got stranded in the cold Monday night and had to be rescued after attempting to secure the wayward boat, said Beaufort Water Search and Rescue Skipper Dick Jennings.
"It got caught broadside in the wind out there, and it just pushed it right up there into the marsh," Jennings said.
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The couple who owned the boat paddled out in a canoe to get it. A Port Royal fireman saw them heading toward the boat and could tell they were having trouble.
Volunteers picked up the couple and towed in the boat, despite freezing temperatures and winds gusting at more than 30 mph.
Many of the problems with loose boats come with inexperienced boaters who don't know how to properly anchor their boats, or with owners who only check on the boats occasionally, Smith said.
"There's proper ways of anchoring boats, depending on the size of the boats and wind condition and current condition," he said.
Jennings recommends boat owners look at their moorings now and inspect them at least once a year.
Smith recommends owners take classes such as those offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or DNR.
We "would much rather be spending our resources throughout the county instead of chasing drifting boats," Smith said.