AUSTIN, Texas - With afternoon showers on the way, Fox-7 Austin hopped in a boat Labor Day morning with Travis County Emergency Services District #1.
“Depending on who you talk to this is one of the most dangerous lakes in the nation,” said Captain Robert Ming.
The sun was still shining bright at this point. Captain Ming discussed what they keep an eye out for when they patrol Lake Travis.
“Try to tell people and inform them that staying to the right side of the channel bowie’s, no matter what side of the lake you’re on. It’s just like driving down the street.
Captain Ming says with lake levels below normal, hazards can mean hidden or not-so-hidden dangers for boaters: Sand bars, islands, tree stumps.
Ming says boaters really should have a map of Lake Travis.
Travis County ESD #1 says they get a lot of calls from Devil’s Cove.
“Most of what we see with incidents that happen out here are boats, they’re so close in proximity, they end up hitting each other or they’re not paying attention. They might run over somebody that’s in the water because boats are moving within feet of each other and people are in the water around the boats,” Ming said.
The Labor Day sun didn’t last long. Soon the clouds started looming on the horizon.
April Travis, no relation to the lake or the county apparently, wasn’t bothered by a few raindrops.
“I love it, I think it’s awesome! First I want people to leave because of the rain — more space...but no it’s great, we need the rain and it cools it down,” Travis said.
But lightning would be the dealbreaker.
“That was the only thing we said if it [starts] lightning then we’ll just get out of the water,” Travis said.
Ming says if boaters are caught in a storm get to shore.
“The best advice that we can give is seek shelter. Especially if there’s lightning involved in the storm. Water is very conductive. If your boat is made of metal that’s very conductive. A boat going through water, that creates a static charge,” Ming said.
By the way the Travis County Sheriff’s Office encourages wearing life jackets at all times, even swimmers. They say 13 people who have disappeared from Lake Travis have never been recovered.