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Frequently Asked Questions
About the Lake Murray Power Squadron

by P/C Jerry Wise, SN


What meetings are held and where?

Meetings are held, on average, every month either at our home port, Flotilla Island or different venues around the Midlands area.  Favorite locations include Saluda Shoals Park, Lexington County Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Lexington auditorium and Gibson Park.  Meetings may have guest speakers from DNR or other agencies, local interest experts and boating professionals.  Informal gatherings are often held on the docks at Flotilla Island or local restaurants.  Naturally there are the special July Fourth barbeques, Christmas parties, Change of Watch banquets (where new leaders are sworn in), and often special events like a Mardi Gras dinner and more.

What do you do at Lake Murray Power Squadron?

This is an interesting question and has a lot of answers.  Various members do a number of different things.  Things related to boating, safety, education and the outdoors.  We'll cover this answer in several topics.  

1.     First and foremost would be Boater Education.  With over 200 members Lake Murray Power Squadron has a tremendous depth of knowledge and resources with many highly trained individuals engaged in Boater Education.  From basic boat operation, our folks are experts all the way up to international navigation using the most advanced electronics or the legendary tried and true skills of Celestial navigation.  All available through courses to interested members.  Some of the courses include basic boating skills.  Others go right on up the skills ladder with courses like Piloting (using GPS and charts), Advanced Piloting (more charts, GPS and tides) and Navigation (advanced electronics, use of the Sextant and ocean voyages).  Want to learn to sail? There's the Sailing course covering sailing basics.   A really great Weather course is available, often taught with the help of NOAA meteorologist.  Boat broke and wires sparking, we have the Engine Maintenance course and three different Marine Electronics courses.  If you are planning a trip on the water the Cruise Planning course is a perfect place to start.  All these and more are supplemented by a number of seminars.  Many of the Instructors are holders of the Power Squadron's coveted “Senior Navigator” position meaning they have successfully completed all the core courses offered by the United States Sail and Power Squadron.  Many members take all the courses while others take only one or two.  The educational opportunities are there to explore with no pressure or urgency, and at a very modest cost.

2.    Working with local agencies is an important part of the Lake Murray Power Squadron's day-to-day operation.  We help confirm and correct charts issued by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  We, along with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, provide upkeep on the Flotilla Island facility which is often used by Law Enforcement agencies in emergencies on the lake.  It is also used for training and helicopter rescue operations.  We also provide power and resources on Flotilla for weather monitoring stations used by NOAA and Richland County Emergency Management.  These keep an eye out for potential weather situations on the lake and help build the weather picture for NOAA.  Other members regularly check on the Lake Murray Reference Lights, installing or repairing them as needed.  All these activities are done by LMPS volunteers.  Again, members can choose to participate or just enjoy the other benefits Lake Murray Power Squadron offers. 

3.    Charitable outreach is an important program our members participate in.  We support Harvest Hope and many other charitable activities.  Every year Lake Murray Power Squadron holds a very special “Thornwell Children's Day on the Lake”.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, swimming and boat rides make this a very special day for these little future citizens.  We like to think the smiles we see that day go on forever. 

4.    We go places-interesting places.  This deserves a topic to its self and is covered elsewhere in this FAQ. 

What is special about Lake Murray Power Squadron versus other organizations?

One would have to say Lake Murray Power Squadron's depth of knowledge and experience is exceptional among boaters.  The Power Squadron organization has a number of very deep nautical courses members can take.  They go from basic boating skills all the way to navigating the open ocean with just a sextant (instrument for measuring position by using the stars and Sun), almanac and watch.  With Lake Murray, you can go as deeply into boating or as little as you like.  Regardless, there will always be members with excellent boating skills and high levels of nautical education available to offer assistance and advice. 

As an example, say you are interested in going down the Congaree River by boat.  Many members have made this trip and may also be going soon.  You just join them and the trip will be much more enjoyable and actually a lot safer.  These folks know the way and the perils.  Or you may be considering adding a VHF radio or even a radar to your new boat.  With Lake Murray Power Squadron you'll find a number of members very familiar with all manner of marine electronics willing to lend a hand. There is even a course on Marine Electronics to make you an expert if you choose.  It's this depth that makes Lake Murray Power Squadron special. 

What type of people are in Lake Murray Power Squadron?

They are just a good group of folks.  Sitting beside you at a meeting may be a doctor, mechanic, business owner, fireman, vice president, office worker, physical therapist, retiree, housewife, banker, lawyer, gopher... just no telling really.  Everybody from all walks of life in the Squadron has a common interest in safe boating and having fun at Lake Murray Power Squadron.  There are a number of United States Power Squadrons (378 at this writing) with 14 in the SC/GA area known as District 26.  Lake Murray is the largest in this district and is in the top 5% of the National Squadrons in terms of members.  We like to think we are a lot more than just numbers though.  We've got a lot of very knowledgeable people helping other members and doing a lot of good things.  Members are voted into the organization, but if you are committed to safe boating and our goals you will be more than welcomed.   

Where are you located?

Lake Murray Power Squadron is located on Flotilla Island (owned by SCANA and leased to Lake Murray Power Squadron).  We share the location with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.  Flotilla Island is located at 2390 Johnson Marina Road (very end of the road) near Ballentine, SC.  The organizations maintain a clubhouse, picnic shelters, docks and a ramp on Flotilla Island.  While primarily used for Lake Murray Power Squadron and Coast Guard Auxiliary activities the launching ramp and docks are also available for use by local governments.  The Island has weather stations for NOAA and Richland County Emergency Management installed, as well as communication equipment used by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  The facilities are also used by local law enforcement for training and lake operations, as well as helicopter landings.  

Do you work with government agencies?

Yes.  Members routinely work with a number of government agencies supporting safe boating on our waterways.  We participate in cooperative charting programs which help maintain the accuracy of mapping our rivers and waterways.  We routinely train and certify boaters meeting government requirements for boat and jet ski operation.  Many times we'll help agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with public displays such as manning their “Boating Simulator” for them.  We also maintain the “Reference Lights” on Lake Murray. These flashing red and green lights can be seen at strategic locations around Lake Murray helping boaters identify where they are on the water.   Another important program is our Vessel Safety Check (VSC) program.  Lake Murray Power Squadron members who are certified inspectors will check your boat for all required safety equipment and present you with a VSC sticker showing you are operating a safe boat with all the required equipment.  You too can participate by becoming an inspector and working with our VSC team.   

Lake Murray has over 200 members (July 2016) with diverse interests and hobbies.  Some members like to do cooperative charting, others help with reference light maintenance, others with boat shows, and some just like to relax and enjoy boating.  We have the broad membership base to do it all with professionalism. 

Is Lake Murray Power Squadron right for everybody?

Most of the current members are well past their teen years.  Our interests focus on boating on Lake Murray and waters in the Southeast.  Informal get-togethers (BBQs, dinners, rafting up and sightseeing) rank high with us.  Also, education and public outreach.  No organization is right for everybody but for those sharing our interests, we are absolutely right for them.  The best way to find out if there is a happy match is to join for a year and get an up close and personal view from the inside on what it means to be a member of Lake Murray Power Squadron.

What does it cost to be a member?

At this writing the cost is under $200 per year.  This includes all meetings and use of the facilities within the rules and guidelines of Lake Murray Power Squadron.  If you choose to dine at the meetings there will be a nominal charge for dinner prepared by the meeting caterer.  The education courses mostly have some charge related to the books and materials involved.  The instructors are volunteer members and we use facilities we have or locations loaned by local businesses and colleges. 

We hear a lot about LMPS “cruises” — what are these about?

If you really want to know what boating is about then these cruises are for you. Lake Murray Power Squadron members go on a number of cruises every year.  These are entirely voluntary and led by members intimately familiar with the cruise and destination.  Some years, we go from Charleston to Beaufort or Georgetown (especially for the Wooden Boat Show in October).  We may go to Okracoke, NC, Amelia Island, Jacksonville, Orlando, Myrtle Beach and many other locations all over the coast.  These trips are mostly by water with some trailering to reach convenient launching locations.  The cruises are “semi-structured” giving you an opportunity to participate in all activities or just go along for the fun of it and sit on the boat enjoying new places.  Let’s take a typical short cruise from Charleston to Georgetown to give you a feel for how things go:

1.     The cruise group of 10 trailer boats has arranged to meet at a gas stop on I-26 at 10 a.m.

2.    After meeting the group heads to Charleston and launches their boats.  If anybody had trouble on the way down, other members will be helping them get the tire changed or whatever and will help them catch up to the group in Charleston.

3.    The cruise group has lunch either on the boat or at a convenient marina restaurant in the Charleston area.  They may stay the night in Charleston taking in the sights or may begin the run to Georgetown.  If staying over in Charleston, folks not wanting to sleep on their boats will have hotel rooms pre-arranged by the cruise coordinator.

4.    If folks want to head up to Georgetown that afternoon the cruise coordinator makes sure all boats are gassed and ready to go then leads the group out past the Charleston downtown “Battery” and out across the harbor past Fort Sumter, the USS York Town, the Ravenel Bridge and into the Intracoastal Waterway behind Sullivan's Island.  Majestic homes line the Intercoastal Waterway in places adding to the interest. 

5.    As the cruise is underway, the boats pass beautiful Capers Island, Bull's Island, Cape Romain with its legendary twin lighthouses from the 18th and 19th century.  Once the quaint ocean side village of McClellanville is passed, the cruise goes through the final reaches of the North and South Santee Rivers as they enter the ocean.  Abandoned rice fields and beautiful scenery line the Intracoastal from here all the way into Winyah Bay.  Many members are “walking encyclopedias” on areas we cruise and relate interesting facts as we go. 

6.    Once in Winyah Bay, the boats take a long curving ride across the Bay into historic Georgetown.  Later you can cruise right downtown or just ride around the waters of Winyah Bay. 

7.    The cruise coordinator will lead the boats into the destination marina and experienced member quickly dock their boats.  They then hurry to help less experienced member secure their boats safely to the docks and get setup for the evening.  Those not staying on their boats check in to the Hampton Inn or a local bed and breakfast of their choosing.   There may be an evening dinner planned or we may dine on the boats.  Members may choose to participate in all planned activities are just sit on the boats or docks or motel balcony and hang out.  Their choice. 

8.    After the Wooden Boat Show or whatever activity the cruise focused on, the group will then retrace their route back to Charleston, load the boats and head home.  Or, strike out on their own if time allows. 

The most important hidden benefit of Lake Murray Power Squadron cruises is the safety and strength in numbers.  Ten boats at a marina gets good service.  Having 10 willing and helpful member families along in their boats and car/trucks during the cruise assures help is right with you in these beautiful but sometimes far off the beaten path places.  Having knowledgeable people leading the cruise “short cuts” the learning curve it takes to fully appreciate a new and interesting area.  It's truly a rare opportunity cruising with so many experienced and knowledgeable people that are all part of your group. 

You mention hidden benefits in the preceding FAQ. Are there any others?

There are many other “hidden” or incidental benefits in addition to the feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie.  As mentioned above, there are over 200 members plus their families and friends from all walks of life.  Chances are if you need some advice, there are members well versed in your area of concern.  There are members from all areas of healthcare including doctors, nurses, therapist, EMTs, and clerical.  There are sales folks, realtors, engineers, financial advisers, insurance agents, corporate officers, lawyers and so many more professions among our members.  Also a goodly group of retired professionals.  There are even master gardeners, sewing experts, chicken raisers and amateur astronomers on board.  People so well versed in areas other than boating that may benefit you.  Membership puts you in touch with a good solid base of competent individuals willing to help co-members. 

All organizations have informal groups, how do I fit in?

Very good question.   We all know as groups come together some people have a lot more in common with others and tend to talk, sit, and socialize together.   When you join Lake Murray Power Squadron the Membership Committee will ask an existing member to mentor you for a while.   This gives you time to meet all of our members, make friends and become acclimated to the group.   You will quickly find new lifelong friends that you enjoy being with.   LMPS has been around for a long time and is a large group of friends doing good things for the boating and local communities.

Updated 03 March 2021
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