Flotilla started in north Alabama

By Arielle Clay

CULLMAN, AL (WBRC) - Memorial Day is a little more than a week away.  When the holiday rolls around this year the police that patrol the waters of Smith Lake will have some extra help.

That's because the Coast Guard Auxiliary has started a Flotilla in North Alabama.

"Wow you're kind of young to be in the coast guard," Jonathan Wright said.

At just 17 years old Wright is becoming an official member of a Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla in Cullman County.

"Focus primarily on boating safety.  We do boating safety classes vessel safety inspections help the general public if someone is out there with a boating problem," Curtis Cantrell said.

The Flotilla is a group under the Coast Guard Auxiliary made up of about 15 men and women from the Cullman area.  Cantrell spent the past year and a half getting enough people together to start the group.

"We don't have anything here aside from two marine police and the lake is 88 miles from one end to the other.  510 miles of shoreline," Cantrell said.

The Flotilla is a voluntary organization.  The North Alabama branch officially starts Sunday.  It is a welcomed help to the marine police that patrol Smith Lake.

"The more boater education we can get out there the better off we are," Officer John Williams said.

Williams says the help will be especially appreciated this Memorial Day as the Flotilla reaches out to boaters.

"Getting them prepared so we don't have to go the next part of enforcement on that and that's what we like to see happen.  So I'm not having to do as many stops," Williams said.

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