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Charlotte Area News

New Rules For Boat Renters On Lake Norman Are On The Way

Renting a boat or jet skis on Lake Norman doesn't take much know-how. A new committee has formed to come up with rules of what kind of instruction people who rent out boats should be required to offer. Last year on Lake Norman, an inexperienced boater put his rented boat in reverse when he should've turned off the engine. The boat's propeller sliced into a woman swimming behind the boat. Her right arm and both breasts had to be amputated. That started John Marino with the Lake Norman Marine Commission wondering how to strengthen boat rental rules. "There really isn't any laws or ordnances that govern rental boats on Lake Norman," says Marino. He heads the newly-formed committee looking at coming up with boat rental rules. He says right now there's no standard on what instruction boat owners give renters. "It's from telling them, 'Here is the starting switch. Here is the kill switch and go, have a wonderful time'to other rental boat operators who actually have a 10 or 15 minute video on safe boating techniques." Marino wants the committee to standardize these instructions and possibly require all boat rental operators to have a certain level of insurance. Dustin Keith owns Aquaventure Watercraft Rentals which primarily rents pontoon boats and some jet skis. He and several other boat rental companies plan to be part of the committee. He says most rental businesses are doing a good job of instructing customers. Keith spends a lot of time with new renters making sure they know safety protocols and are comfortable operating the boat or jet skis. And he doesn't allow alcohol on board. But he says that's not how everyone does it. "There's a couple of rogue operators that are not training their customers, that are not insured. And then there are others still that are just private individuals that are renting out their own private boats off of Craigslist or other sites," says Keith. Keith hopes to make the type of training he offers the standard. The state requires all boaters under the age of 26 to take a seven hour safety course. But that doesn't apply to those who rent boats. The marine commission initially discussed requiring the same of renters of any age, but several rental businesses said that would hurt business. That plan is currently off-the-table. The committee expects to have rules in place by the end of the year.