Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake

Recreation Areas - Boating


Speeding across the water on skis behind a powerboat… Riding personal watercrafts (PWC) with your friends… Simply sailing silently across the lake… There’s nothing like it! But please remember – with the enjoyment of recreational boating comes the responsibility to know the nautical rules of the road and of small craft safety. Many boating accidents and fatalities could be prevented if people on board didn’t drink and did wear their life jacket. Many collisions could be avoided if the operator paid full attention and avoided risks. Make sure you (and anyone else that may operate your boat or PWC) know the rules of the road and the basics of handling your craft.
The following links lead to lists of recreation areas with Boating...
  • Day Use Areas on Lake Russell
  • Campgrounds on Lake Russell*
* all areas listed have access ramps
Boaters! Before Getting Underway…
  • Take a safe boating course - you might be surprised about what you don’t know about boating safety (and it may even give you a discount on your boat insurance)!
  • Put on your life jacket and leave your alcohol behind.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • File a float plan with a friend.
  • Check your boat for all required safety equipment.
  • Know the state boating laws for the state(s) you will be boating in.
  • Check your electrical system and fuel system for gas fumes.
  • Follow manufacturers suggested procedures before starting up.
  • Carry a navigation chart and know your waterway.
  • Lake levels fluctuate daily. Check lake levels before each trip to the lake.

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And While You’re Underway…
  • Boating on Lake Russell is made safer and easier by an extensively marked navigation system. The system consists of starboard, port and mid-channel markers mounted on treated poles in the lake. Reflective tape is used to make them highly visible day and night. Navigation charts and contour maps are also available to assist boaters and anglers in locating the marked channel, potential underwater hazards and prime fishing areas.
  • Follow navigation rules of the road, buoys, and other aids to navigation.
  • Watch your wake and keep a safe distance* from docks and other structures, swimmers, and other boats. It’s the law, its courteous, and it is in place for everyone’s safety.

Run your mouse over the buoys to learning about the different symbols on them.


  • Please keep hold of your trash – items such as drink cups, cans, old fishing line, and bait containers can easily be blown into the water, especially from a moving boat. Not only are these items unattractive, they can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life.
  • Do not tie up your boat to buoys or signs.
  • Wear a life jacket whether you know how to swim or not and dress appropriately for the weather. Most people who drown never intended to be in the water in the first place and drown within 10 – 30 feet of safety.

Don’t forget that the lake is for everyone’s enjoyment and a reckless or rude boater can turn a nice day at the lake into a disaster!

* State boating laws vary by state. In Georgia, boaters must keep 100 feet from docks, structures, shoreline, swimmers or other persons in the water, and from other boats unless traveling at a “no wake” speed. In South Carolina, the distance is 50 feet.

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Take A Safe Boating Class!

Don’t put it off – now is an excellent time of year to learn about boating safety!
Several organizations offer safety boating classes in the Lake Russell area. To find out when the next course is offered, give them a call!
  • U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 25, 864-972-2085 or 706-376-0096
  • Lake Hartwell Sail & Power Squadron,   864-231-7007
  • Golden Corners Sail & Power Squadron, 864-654-1151
  • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, 864-654-8266
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 706-535-5499
  • Boat/U.S. Foundation maintains a “hotline” of boating safety courses throughout the U.S. Call the hotline at 1-800-236-2628.
  • National Association of State Boating Law
      Administrators (NASBLA)
Water Safety Did You Know?
  • A child can drown in only 20 seconds. An adult can drown in 60 seconds.
  • Two thirds of drowning victims had no intentions of being in the water.
  • Most people drown within 10 - 30 feet of safety.
  • Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for persons 15 - 44 years old.
  • More than half of all the people who drown had consumed alcohol prior to their accident.

Being intoxicated is not necessary for alcohol to be a threat to your safety. Just one beer will impair your balance, vision, judgment and reaction time, thus making you a potential danger to yourself and others.

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