Wake Up! By Kevin Murphy

Wake up! No, wait, wake down! Why? Let’s get into this wavering topic. As we surf through this, other resource material will be referenced that I urge you to review. We all know about the infamous “No Wake Zone” that many ignore. Some feel it doesn’t apply to them. Others have no idea the rule exists. Then there’s those that think they are honoring the rule, but really not. So just what is this rule and what does it really mean? First, you have to understand what Maine considers as a “water safety zone”. The official definition from the Maine Boating Guide is, “the area of water within 200 feet of any shoreline, whether the shoreline of the mainland or of an island” (1). This zone is referenced by Maine Statute on the lawful operating speed of a watercraft. Basically, the law says the boat must be operated at headway speed within this zone (2). OK, what is headway speed? Headway speed is the minimum speed the vessel may operate safely and under control. If the speed is too slow, then steering the watercraft may be a challenge endangering others around you. It is not a miles per hour, it is slowest you can go while maintaining control. Make sense? OK, now that we got these terms down, what’s up with my wakes? The intent of the law if to protect people and property. Boats that run at higher speeds can raise a wake high enough to capsize a kayak and cause erosion

to the shoreline. Back in the 70’s we loved to zip up and down shorelines as camps were few and far between. Boats were smaller, lighter, and not as fast as those today. We also didn’t understand the negative effect on the lake from the soil and other material washed into it back then. Ever see those ugly green blooms in the water? They are helped along from erosion (3). Today we have to be smarter on how to protect families, property, and the lake. Still not convinced? Tough group! OK, let’s talk liability. It is one ugly word, but one we need to consider these days where society has become extremely litigious. There’s actually a court case where a fisherman sued a boater because his wake caused the fishing boat to capsize. A wake caused this! Here’s the punchline - the court agreed with the fisherman. All this was over a wake (4). Why not save your wakes for when you need them. Skiing, wake boarding, and other such fun activities are always welcomed as long as you stay away from shorelines, islands, and others also having fun on the lake. We love to hear the squeals of delight from children as they bounce over the wakes on a tube. We don’t like to hear from others yelling at you for rocking or maybe even tipping over their canoes, SUPs, or any other watercraft. Safe distances and awareness are key. No one is telling you not to have fun, but have fun responsibly (5). There’s plenty of lake for us all to share and have fun making memories. Don’t be the one that spoils the fun for someone else (6).

References 1. The Boater’s Guide to Maine Boating Laws, https://www.maine.gov/ifw/docs/boat-ed.com-maine-handbook.pdf 2. Operating watercraft; prohibitions, http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/12/title12sec13068-A.html 3. What is that green cloud floating in the lake, https://littlesebagolake.com/my_lake/what-is-that-green-cloud-floating-in-the-lake/ 4. Boat Wake Damage Liability, https://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/magazine/2015/october/boat-wake-damage-liability.asp 5. Time To Wake Up About Wakes, https://www.boatus.com/magazine/trailering/2012/june/wake-up-about-wakes.asp 6. Boat Wakes And Bad Tempers, https://www.boatus.com/magazine/2011/august/seaworthy.asp


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