NORTH FORSYTH — Lake Lanier businesses are readying for Memorial Day weekend, which signals the start of the busy summer season.
William Archer, vice president of boat rentals at Port Royale Marina in northern Forsyth County, said while some boat owners have been taking advantage of the recent warm weather, Memorial Day kicks the season into high gear.
“For the boat owners, they’re out here earlier,” he said. “That’s why they own a boat. They can make that decision [to get on the water] last minute.
“But Memorial Day is definitely the kickoff of the season for most people.”
Archer is predicting a strong start to summer this weekend. The weather outlook is pleasant and the water level is at 1071.24 feet above sea level, which is about 1 foot higher than the summer full pool of 1070.
“We’re looking at a really good forecast for the weekend, in the low 90s,” said Archer, adding that he thinks most people are ready for summer after a bitterly cold winter.
“Even in the early spring, when it would get warm enough to tolerate it, the lake was full,” he said. “Last summer, it rained every dang weekend and [then] we had a harsh winter, so everybody is ready to be on the water.”
Tommy Bruce, assistant director of Forsyth County Parks and Recreation, said he and other staff members are expecting a strong holiday weekend at Shady Grove Campground, which is also on Lanier.
“It’s sold out. every space is rented out,” he said of the 110-site campground in northeast Forsyth.
“Our guys are getting ready. We’ve got the firewood … and everybody’s excited about it.”
While the campground has been open since late March, Bruce said this weekend ushers in peak season.
“You’ve got Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day weekend,” he said. “Those are our really big weekends when it’s absolutely filled.”
At Port Royale, Archer anticipates good attendance numbers.
“I think it’s going to be a good one,” he said. “With Memorial Day, our reservations don’t really fill up until it gets closer. So our phones are starting to ring a lot now and then they’ll ring even more as we get toward Saturday.
“We typically don’t go into it completely booked, usually you’re taking calls Saturday morning and then you run out of boats by noon and then the rest of the weekend fills in.”
He’s anticipating the weekend will continue what already been a good year at the business, which has a fleet of nearly 100 different types of rental boats and watercraft.
“Our numbers are already looking good across the board,” he said. “Our occupancy level is up from last year; our fuel and boat rental and ship store revenue is up a little.
“And the great thing is, we’re just getting started. The lake’s up and we couldn’t ask for better.”