On the crystal clear waters of Lake Murray, the Lake Murray Yacht Club is doing its part to help make the lake a safer place.
The Yacht Club is a 501C3 nonprofit organization with 125 members.
Feeling it’s their civic duty, the yacht club, in cooperation with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, has started various programs to help with the safety of the lake, including Keep Kids Safe.
The project was started by long-time park ranger Jim Sturgis, and was passed onto Diana Baldwin in 2013.
Incoming yacht club president Mike McKenzie, who has also been a member of the club for the last 20 years, felt it was a no-brainer to take on the program.
“Jim Sturgis asked the Yacht Club if we would take on the project and we were glad to,” McKenzie said. “We have had zero drownings since.”
The program has been the recipient of more than 600 donated life jackets of all sizes, which are taken  to the various swimming beaches at Lake Murray, and are available free of charge to anyone that wants to swim.
Another project the Yacht Club has taken on is fixing the mooring buoys located around the lake.
With the shoreline covered in trees, and no distinct land markings, the buoys help boaters and the Highway Patrol find their way around the lake. Each buoy is individually numbered, and is fixed or replaced every few years by the club.
Outgoing president Ted Enos saw the need for the buoys, and with the cooperation of the State Park and the Highway Patrol, helped make a better experience for lake goers.
“Out on the lake there is no shoreline development, so it is hard to tell anybody where you are,” Enos said. “We put these mooring buoys out where people can tie their boats up and swim or whatever all afternoon. Every buoy has a number, so if you are out at the lake and tell somebody you are at buoy 46 there are maps all over and they can instantly tell where the buoy is.”
Also to help the Highway Patrol, the club purchased a Hummingbird 360 side imaging sonar to help with search and rescue.
“The Yacht Club saw a need for a sonar and bought a sonar and gave it to the Highway Patrol to put into a boat,” McKenzie said. “They had to use it one time and found the guy in five minutes.”
Another program the Yacht Club supports is an annual boater’s safety course, which qualifies boat owners for a discount on boater’s insurance.
“It is a Highway Patrol lead safety course with a test at the end,” McKenzie said. “It is required for kids ages 12-15 to operate a jet ski with an adult, or in sight of an adult. It is not bad to go through every few years to make sure it sinks back into your mind.”
The Yacht Club helps with six to eight events per year, including its annual Poker Run.
Recently, the club helped sponsor the annual Catch a Special Thrill event for kids held on Lake Murray each year. C.A.S.T. for Kids is a nonprofit organization which takes kids with special needs fishing on the lake. Club members donate the use of their boats to take the kids fishing and also help teach the kids how to fish.
“We try to maintain a healthy relationship with the state parks, the marina and the Highway Patrol,” McKenzie said. “Members do these things because we are boaters, we reach out and identify places that can be improved and put our opinion into action.”