MONTICELLO, Ky. (Aug. 6, 2017) – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park rangers from the Nashville District patrolled the waters of Lake Cumberland Aug. 5., and provided a safety net of security during the annual Lake Cumberland Raft-Up for thousands of avid boaters.
“The Raft-Up event is always a huge for Lake Cumberland and the surrounding counties and our primary focus is to always ensure water safety,” said Park Ranger Tyler Matthews, a natural resources specialist, from Lake Cumberland.
Matthews said patrolling a large recreation area with thousands of boats on the water at one time can be stressful but he always tries to remain calm, stay alert, and smile.
"I really enjoy this job and believe folks really just come to have a good time,” said Matthews. “One of the best things about talking and meeting people is that we get to provide remind them to be safe, and see some incredible boats,” said Matthews.
According to Farrah Dobbs, marketing manager and community relations specialist at Lee’s Ford Marina, the Lake Cumberland Raft-Up began in 2010, the gathering broke the Guinness World Records with the largest numbers of boats tied up together in a single raft-up. Guinness representatives counted more than 1,600 boats of all types, shapes and sizes for the record in 2010.
Since then, the Lake Cumberland Association has made it an annual event and the raft up has become a signature event on the lake with the boating community and boating enthusiasts.
“This is the largest commissioned base weekend of the year for area businesses and it is a time that Alligator 2, Beaver Creek, Burnside, Grider Hill, Jamestown, Lee’s Ford, State Dock and Wolf Creek Marinas come together to celebrate Lake Cumberland. The Raft-Up is organized by the Lake Cumberland Association and is held with the blessing of the boards of tourism from all of the lake’s surrounding counties.
“I love and support the Corps of Engineers park rangers and we are grateful to have their support for this event,” said Dobbs.
Dobbs said the raft-up took place in the Shinbone area, just two miles from Conley Bottom Resort near Monticello, and is centrally located to
Dobbs said her time was spent hanging with family and friends.
“It’s the spirit of community around the lake,” said Dobbs. “We jumped on rafts and ended up on a paddle boat floating between two different bachelor parties, and just beyond that there were two more bachelorette parties.
Dobbs said a lot of time and coordination went into the organization of this event and it has attracted people from Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, and Virginia.”
Mark and Angie Kreidler from Independence, Ky., has incorporated the event as part of their annual family vacation. They used their house boat as a home base and used a smaller vessel to tie up and float around to other boats.
“We have been doing this since it started and love this lake and love the people, because everyone has so much fun,” said Angie Kreidler. “Now we bring the entire family, children and grandchildren included.
Park Ranger Judy Daulton, a natural resources specialist, also from Lake Cumberland, said patrolling park rangers have the ability to enforce federal boating regulations when needed. They also routinely engage the public recreating on Corps lakes to promote good water safety practices when boating and recreating.
“I think it’s just the friendship of everybody coming together, enjoying the beautiful backdrop of Lake Cumberland,” said Dobbs. “With that many boats, you can imagine how many people there are. They use water craft to visit each other, eat great food, fellowship and have a good time. The atmosphere is unlike anything else that occurs on Lake Cumberland.”
Denny Brockman rode his jet-ski two miles through choppy waves to Conley Bottom Marina, where he purchased snacks and headed back to meet his friends.
“I’m having a great time and look forward to this Raft-Up event every year,” said Brockman. “I think it’s good to have the rangers and law enforcement out here looking out for us. Sometimes when you get this many people together they don’t always act and think smart.”
To better promote public safety during the Raft-Up, park rangers patrolled the lake looking for anyone needing assistance in a boat, in a float, or in the open water.
Matthews said rangers partnered with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources officers throughout the day.
Park rangers have the ability to enforce federal boating regulations. They routinely engage the public recreating on Corps lakes to promote good water safety practices when boating and recreating.
“Water safety is a primary mission of the overall visitor assistance program to provide the public the safest recreational environment that we can provide.” said Matthews. “Especially in the summer time when the public is here, our primary focus is to keep them safe.”
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also visit Cheatham Lake’s Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lakecumberland.)