Lake Norman & Mooresville

Teen raises money for navigation aids

When Michael Nutting learned that some of the navigational aids on Lake Norman need replacing or repairing, he took up the challenge.

An avid jet-skier and boater, the South Iredell High sophomore has started a program to raise money for the Lake Norman Marine Commission’s Aids To Navigation committee. As part of his baccalaureate project, he made a presentation at the commission’s Nov. 10 meeting in Mooresville about the initiative he calls Light up the Lake.

“I really love the lake,” says the Mooresville 15-year-old. “I was thinking, ‘Man, it’d be really great if I could do something to help out the lake, or do something to make a little bit of an impact.

“I was looking around the Internet and noticed there are a couple of websites talking about how there are burned-out lights on the top of the buoys. When they’re burned out or broken or stolen, it’s just really unsafe.”

Michael says that installing a new buoy can cost more than $1,000, and a navigation pole with the green or red signs can cost more than $2,000. “You have to go another 10 feet underground for the pole,” he says.

His goal is to raise $2,500 by April, and he had $800 in commitments by Thanksgiving. He received three $200 pledges at the commission meeting after his presentation – from the Lake Norman Ski Club, Tweed Place Homeowners Association and TowBoatUS.

Among current needs Michael cites are two channel marker lights that are out, and two bridge buoys that are out of commission.

Lake Norman Marine Commission Executive Director Ron Shoultz confirms that and adds the commission deals with about 300 different buoys, signs and light poles on the lake at various points, so there’s always something in need of repair or replacing.

The Marine Commission is funded by the four counties that abut Lake Norman: Mecklenburg, Iredell, Lincoln and Catawba. But local funding can be important in expediting and maximizing navigation-aid improvements.

“The Lake Norman Marine Commission certainly appreciates all of his efforts,” Shoultz says of Michael. His presentation, during which he requested information about the cost of replacing the markers and boater safety classes, “was very good. … Quite frankly, if we had a thousand of those young gentlemen we would definitely love that kind of thing.

“We will support him in his efforts, and as a matter of fact we’re working with him as far as giving him information about the maintenance of the nav-aids.”

Shoultz says the fundraising to repair the navigation aids is part of a broader mission for Michael: “He’s trying to bring awareness of the need for participation in all aspects of Lake Norman when it comes to boater safety, boater education and just boater awareness. His bigger picture is that he wants to preserve the lake, he wants to inform people about how great the asset is, and he wants to make sure people are aware of certain safety practices.”

Michael is still working on the mechanics of the fundraising, from setting up a Facebook account to trying to open a bank account (the latter complicated by the fact he’s a minor). He’s working on a design for a car sticker that would be sold to help raise money. For now, he says all donation-related inquiries should be sent to

The Nuttings have always been water enthusiasts, he says, especially his grandfather and father. His dad, Mike Nutting, is proud of the way his son is giving back to the lake that has given so much to him.

“It’s something he’s doing on his own,” he says. “He’s grown up around the lake and loves the lake and saw a need for lights and safety awareness on the lake, so he decided to do this project.”