Newer paddlers of the Berkeley Blueways tend to have a preconceived notion that primary safety concerns are not going over a dam or being eaten by an alligator. The truth is those should be the least of paddlers’ concerns. The more pressing safety concerns should be ensuring you remain properly hydrated, have ample protection from sun exposure, and carry proper medication should you suffer with allergies from bee or wasp stings. The red wasp is common in the South Carolina’s Lowcountry and often builds its nests on willow branches or dead limbs overhanging or adjacent to the the Berkeley Blueways. Care should be taken not to disturb them.
If anything happens to you while you are paddling, please be aware of how far away you are from the nearest doctor or hospital. It is not easy to get to somebody in the middle of a trail. For that reason, it is important to exercise extreme caution when you are far away from a take out point.
You should always complete a Float Plan before you go out on the water. It is important to let somebody know where you are going to be.
Children under 12 are required to wear a life jacket at all times while paddling or riding in a canoe or kayak.
South Carolina Law
As a canoe or kayak enthusiast, your rights and privileges as a paddler are protected by the State of South Carolina. This is not true for all states. South Carolina has taken a positive stance to ensure that the State’s waterways will always be available for public use.
The State of South Carolina has established a law declaring “Navigable Waters” as public-trust properties, protected by the State and held in trust for the use of the public. This includes all waters now navigable, previously navigable, or those that would be rendered navigable by removal of accidental obstructions. If the water will hold a canoe or kayak, it is considered navigable and you are allowed to use the waterway.
In addition, those properties from the normal high water mark to the water’s bottom are considered public property.
The waters of Berkeley County are easily accessed due to ample launching facilities provided by South Carolina DNR, Santee Cooper, Berkeley County Government and various private fishing and boating oriented marinas. It is incumbent on all users of these facilities to quickly launch their craft and remove their vehicles to make the ramp available for the next person to launch or retrieve their boat.
It is suggested that you off-load your craft on the side of the ramp along with your gear and place your vehicle in the parking area. You can then leisurely load your boat and prepare for your trip without inconveniencing other users of the facility.