Frequently Asked Questions
About the Lake Murray Power Squadron
by P/C Jerry Wise, SN
What meetings are held and
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
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.
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.
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
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.
We go places-interesting
places. This deserves a topic to its self and is covered elsewhere in this
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
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
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
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:
The cruise group of 10
trailer boats has arranged to meet at a gas stop on I-26 at 10 a.m.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.