Chemung River Friends Encourage Safe Boating This Summer

ELMIRA – The weather is warm, and it’s time to get on the river. You have all your safety equipment and are ready for a great day of paddling. Here’s what you need to leave behind: the alcohol.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol use is the leading factor in fatal boating incidents. (Recreational Boating Statistics 2021). Each year, hundreds of local, state, and federal agencies issue citations and warnings for boating under the influence (BUI). For the three days from July 1 – July 3, 2022, over 45,000 citations and warnings were issued for safety violations, and there were 794 arrests for BUI.

Consuming alcohol while boating, even when operating a non-motorized craft, is just as dangerous and just as illegal as drinking and driving. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more is against the law. Impairment can be even more dangerous for boaters than for drivers, since most boaters have less experience and confidence operating a boat than they do driving a car.

New York requires all operators of a motorized craft to have taken a boating safety class since the passing of Brianna’s Law. The law, which took effect on January 1, 2020, allows you and your children to complete the class online or in-person. Click here to find a course.

If you operate a non-motorized class, you do not need a boating safety class, but Chemung River Friends does recommend taking a paddle safety class. The organization offers several paddle safety classes throughout the year, and will offer one in the fall. These paddle safety classes are free to the community thanks to generous grants from the Hilliard Foundation, the Anderson Foundation, and the Walmart Foundation.

Chemung River Friends also offers free life jackets thanks to a donation from Hesselson’s. You can pick up or request a life jacket at their table at the Wisner Farmer’s market every Thursday from 10am – 2pm, all summer long, while supplies last. Sizes are available from Infant to Adult 4XL.

If you are looking for a guided river paddle, Chemung River Friends has those, too. Perfect for beginners and experienced paddlers of all ages, their next paddle is on Sunday, July 9. They will have paddles hosted by Endless Mountain Outfitters throughout the summer, and kayak rentals are available. Sign up at

Visit for more information about how to stay safe on the Chemung River.

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