Staying safe on the water in rough winds

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DECATUR, Ala. -- High winds and rough waves caused the sinking of three boats off Ingall's Harbor on Saturday.

If you're an avid fisher or boater, sometimes you can't stay away from the water, but when braving the rough water, you need to keep safety in mind.

Several boaters told WHNT News 19 the moment they knew their boat was beginning to go down was when waves up to seven feet crashed down.

Jason Clark says when that happens and your boat begins to sink, it's important to know what you're doing. "I put the trim down and I full-throttled," says Clark. "That's the reason we're still here today." He says he kept his composure because he knew what he had to do: get the boat to land.

George Cuvar also made getting the boat to land a number one priority. "We had to run the boat ashore over by Browns Ferry, and from there the boat sunk," says Cuvar.

Alabama State Trooper Larry Adams says the reason George Cuvar escaped the sinking boat was because he used common sense. "As long as you can get that front of the boat up to some land, you can step out and you're safe," says Adams.

Before it gets to the point of sinking, Adams says using extreme caution is important when you see high winds on the water.

"Maybe consider waiting another day and not going out or launch somewhere where the water is calm and you can go back up in the creeks," says Adams.

If you're already on the water when the wind and waves pick up, Adams says you can travel at a 45-degree angle so the waves are not hitting head-on. "If you do find yourself in that situation, do the smart thing and take it to shore before your engine gets overcome by the water and you lose engine power," says Adams.

Clark says you the most important thing when fishing is to "know the area that you're fishing, the area that you're on, and the wind."

"On the Tennessee River, if the winds ever come out of the west and they're more than 10 mile an hour... the waves are going to be bad because the wind is pushing against the current which causes waves," says Cuvar. "So it is not advisable in any type of boat, to go out there... for your own safety."

Trooper Adams says no matter the circumstance, if you decide to launch your boat: put your life jacket on.

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