Though many might consider three days of near-death experiences – that they probably won’t remember – quite dangerous, 4,000 UC Davis students can look forward to such a weekend and even avoid death with the help of Safeboats, a program designed to keep students out of harm’s way.
Approximately 65 houseboats will set sail in Lake Shasta for a weekend of leisure and fun. Among those boats will be the Safeboat on its first voyage ever during the much anticipated Memorial Day weekend.
“This is a traditional weekend and is a lot of fun,” said Molly Fluet, ASUCD vice president and junior political science major. “If there is a student who needs help and needs to get out of there, now there’s a place to do it.”
This year is the first year that Safeboats will float with Houseboats. Men Acting Against Rape (MAAR) developed the concept two years ago, and since then have gained funding through ASUCD, fundraisers and donations.
Three-thousand five hundred dollars later, students attending Houseboats can look forward to the company of four EMTs, one medical supervisor, 2,000 condoms, water, food and hopefully fewer near-death experiences, according to Sam Hardie, president of MAAR and UC Davis graduate.
“When people get out there, they get into the mindset of how their weekend should be, so even as we float by, it will be a reminder for them to look after themselves,” Hardie said.
Because of this mindset, houseboat companies said, students may have a hard time renting a boat. Most houseboats can only be rented by people above the age of 25 or 30 as a result of the behavior typical of students on houseboat vacations.
“They get careless; they don’t respect other people’s property,” said Bob Rollins, general manager of Bridge Bay Resort, a houseboat rental company in Shasta County. “It’s a profitable weekend, though. That’s why we rent them.”
In addition to Safeboats, Rollins said Shasta County Boating Control will have 18 sheriffs patrolling the lake during the entirety of the weekend. The sheriffs are prepared to arrest anyone who drinks and drives the houseboats.
According to Gary VanDyne of the Shasta County Sheriff Department’s boating safety unit, last year there were approximately two arrests made for boating under the influence (BUIs), five victims of alcohol poisoning, 10 minor accidents and one death.
“There’s a lot more that we don’t even know about,” he said. “Those are just the ones who get scared and call us. Hopefully this year they’ll utilize [Safeboats].”
If such students do need help, Safeboat volunteers will be wearing orange shirts, and their boat will be docked at Slaughterhouse Island. They do not have a phone number and encourage anyone in need of emergency attention to call 911.
But many students don’t get hurt at all; they look forward to the weekend and trust that they and their friends will drink responsibly.
“Last year was amazing. Everyone is really nice, and it’s just three days of non-stop fun,” said Taylor Banks, junior civil engineering major. “You might get hurt, but if you’re responsible, I don’t see how it would happen.”
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.