Horry County to explore regulating swimming at boat landings

An Horry County committee plans to address swimmers at boat ramps now that a S.C. Department of Natural Resources official said it is becoming somewhat of a nuisance.

Referred to as a staple in Horry County, swimmers near the ramps and those on floats are starting to grow in numbers, specifically at five landings: Punch Bowl, Pitts, Red Bluff, Hughes and Reeves Ferry, said First Sgt. Nate Hutson.

“I’m getting call after call after call about how these boat landings have turned into a public swimming pool more than a place to put your boat in,” Hutson told the county’s public safety committee at a recent meeting. “I’m not there to try and prevent anybody from the public from enjoying these places to swim. The problem we’re having is they’re not moving when these boats get in there.”

Another problem, Hutson said, is law enforcement does not have an ordinance or state law to force the swimmers and sun bathers from moving.

“I have no way of making them move,” Hutson said. “If they tell me, ‘No, I’m not going to do anything,’ then I don’t have anything to go on and neither do the county officers.”

County Attorney Arrigo Carotti plans to draft an ordinance for the public safety committee to review at its Aug. 25 meeting.

Hutson said he would also like the ordinance to prevent people from leisurely jumping from bridges like Reeves Ferry and Red Bluff because of the danger of it.

Councilman Al Allen, whose 11th district runs along the Horry-Marion county border and wraps around the city of Conway, said three of the five landings Hutson said was a concern are in his district.

“I get calls all the time about it,” Allen said. “We need an ordinance that will specify our boat landings. We need something that can address all of those issues into one. If we don’t get it, it’s going to continue to get worse.

“Try to really make this a priority,” Allen told Carotti. “Get us an ordinance... that will address the swimming on the ramp, the blocking of the ramp, the miscellaneous damage to any county-owned structures and any open alcohol on these public ramps.”

Hutson said the request is not a reaction to any mishaps at the landings.

“I don’t know that we’ve had any issues or problems yet, but what I have to tell callers is we’ll go out there and tell them not to do it, but I really don’t have anything that has any teeth to it.”