5 tips for better boating etiquette

A teen boy on a PWC on the lake By Brad Sauter/Shutterstock

Is your boating etiquette up to snuff? All cottagers love the lake, but let’s face it: come boating season, not everyone embraces high-speed watersports—or the big, fast boats and the PWCs that go with them. Responsible boating, towing, and riding is about minimizing your machine’s impact on the environment, sure, but it’s also about minimizing the impact on your neighbours.

Cottage Q&A: Is there anything you can do about noisy PWCs?

The five keys to calm

1) Change it up. Your location, that is. “Cottagers will be less likely to be upset if they see your boat or PWC once every week, instead of every day,” says Jay Poole of Buckeye Marine in Bobcaygeon, Ont.

2) Tame the speed demon. As you motor around the lake, follow the 10 km/h limit within 30 metres of shore. For one thing, it’s the law. It also reduces your wake’s impact on the shoreline. Nature—and everyone who has a floating dock—will thank you.

3) It’s almost all about timing. Early in the morning, people are asleep. Consider following suit, or towing your skiers to a part of the lake where there are no cottagers to disturb. “Not everyone is going to be as excited as you to hear you at 6 a.m.,” says Poole.

Try these six easy tricks to get anyone up on waterskis.

4) Pick up the barbell pattern. Poole recommends that you drive in this configuration—basically a long, straight line with turns on each end. This route keeps the water calmer and minimizes the space you take up on the lake. Riding a PWC? Don’t endlessly circle in the same spot, especially not if it means that you’re buzzing by swimmers. That’s dangerous and rude. It’s also kind of boring, from your perspective. Circles are boring shapes.

5) Be quiet. Or, fine: be quieter. “Out on the water, both the volume of your music and your voice travel farther and sound clearer,” says Poole. “You may love hip hop or bluegrass country, but the entire lake may not.” At 6 a.m.? Hellz no, y’all.

This article was originally published in the May 2013 issue of Cottage Life, and updated in July 2020.



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