Three men were rescued late Monday after their boat sank in Lake Moultrie because they managed to keep their cellphone dry and call 911, authorities said.

Safety inspections

State fish and wildlife officers will offer free safety inspections for boaters during the long holiday weekend at these locations through the tri-county area:

Berkeley County

1. Cypress Gardens Landing, Dunham Creek, 10 a.m.-noon Friday

2. William Dennis Landing, Tail Race Canal, 10 a.m.-noon Sunday

Charleston County

1. John P. Limehouse Landing, Stono River, 10 a.m.-noon Friday

2. Shem Creek Landing, Shem Creek, 10 a.m.-noon Friday

3. Buck Hall Landing, Intracoastal Waterway at Buck Hall, 10 a.m.-noon Saturday

4. Wappoo Cut Landing, Intracoastal Waterway south of Charleston Harbor, 10 a.m.-12 noon Saturday

5. Leeds Avenue Landing (County Farm), Ashley River, 10 a.m.-noon Sunday

6. Paradise Landing, Wando River, 10 a.m.-noon Sunday

Dorchester County

1. Herbert H. Jessen Landing, Ashley River, 10 a.m.-noon Friday

2. T. Coke Weeks Landing, Edisto River, 10 a.m.-noon Sunday

James Feagin, 40, and his 20-year-old son, Jessie Feagin, along with James Garrett, 41, all of Moncks Corner, were in the boat when a wave lapped over its side.

That caused the 15-foot vessel, which had a 150-horsepower motor, to take on water, Bill Salisbury of the Berkeley County Rescue Squad said. Salisbury didn't know whether the wind or a boat caused the wave.

Before their watercraft foundered, the men snagged some life jackets.

They dialed 911 as they floated in the lake. The trio managed to keep a cellphone above the water's surface and direct rescuers to them, Salisbury said.

"He kept holding his cellphone up, trying to keep it dry," Salisbury said of the man who called 911. "He had it on speaker, trying to talk.

"All that worked out."

An officer from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources picked up the men around 9:30 p.m. None of them were injured or needed any sort of medical treatment, Salisbury said.

"Two things helped save the lives of these three people," he said. "Life jackets and cellphones."

It was the second rescue in recent weeks on Lake Moultrie involving three people and a sinking boat, Salisbury said. But the first rescue June 2 didn't unfold as quickly.

In that case, family members reported to the authorities that three boaters hadn't returned from an outing.

Sheriff's deputies searched on land and found the group's Jeep at the Russellville Boat Landing as the Rescue Squad and DNR canvassed the waters.

By the time the squad found the boaters, all in their early 20s, it had been more than six hours since their vessel went down. Two were wearing life jackets, and the third was clinging to a cooler.

They were taken to a hospital and treated for hypothermia. Salisbury said two of them were in "pretty critical condition" by the time of their rescue.

"It was the same deal," Salisbury said. "They were in the middle of the lake when their boat overturned, but they were out there for a number of hours before we pulled them out."

The week ahead of the July Fourth holiday is typically an active time for boating on South Carolina's rivers and lakes.

Independence Day also has been dubbed "Free Fishing Day" in South Carolina, according to DNR. All residents can fish Friday in the state's fresh water without a recreational license.

During the long weekend, DNR also will offer free inspections for boaters, allowing them to ensure that safety requirements are met on their vessels without the fear of getting a ticket.

The inspections will occur during two-hour windows Friday through Sunday at locations throughout the tri-county area.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or