With the opening of cottage season and the Trent-Severn Waterway this Victoria Day long weekend, the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA) is reminding boaters to “be wake aware” throughout the boating season.
The “Be #WakeAware” campaign — launched in 2021 as a joint initiative of FOCA, the Muskoka Lakes Association, and Safe Quiet Lakes — prompts boaters to watch wake impacts and move any “big wake” fun to an appropriate area of the lake, far away from shorelines.
Potentially damaging wakes are caused by plowing boats leaving a boat launch or marina, or by sudden deceleration or turns near shore. As well as being a danger to swimmers and paddlers, boat wakes can also swamp loon nests, particularly at this time of year when eggs are being laid. According to a University of Windsor study, wakes generated by recreational boats have the potential to erode the shoreline, damage infrastructure like docks, and disrupt aquatic ecosystems.
“With the sixth wave waning, we’re finally hoping for a return to a more normal cottage country experience this year,” says FOCA executive director Terry Rees in a media release. “We all can’t wait to get back on the water this long weekend, but let’s do it safely and responsibly. Everyone needs to be wake aware.”
According to FOCA, the use of Ontario’s waterways has significantly increased over the past two years, with the pandemic closing borders and encouraging people to vacation closer to home. There were 237,000 new pleasure craft operator cards issued in 2020 and nearly 200,000 issued last year.
Boaters need to understand the size of their wake during displacement (travelling low in the water) and transition (with the bow up) to getting on plane (coasting with little drag). To be wake aware, look behind your boat to ensure you minimize the impact of your wake on shorelines and docks. Always reduce speed near shore and when approaching narrows. Position passengers throughout the boat to reduce the time spent in transition and get on plane as soon as possible. Take waterski, surf, and wakeboard fun 200 metres or more away from shorelines.
VIDEO: Be #WakeAware
This year, marina operators across Ontario are also coming on board as marine ambassadors for the “Be #WakeAware” campaign, spreading the word at the water’s edge to both new and long-time boaters.
“A lot of people don’t realize when they whip out of here, how much damage their wake does to docks and other boats,” says Dawn Campbell of Balsam RPM in Coboconk, one of the first marinas in the Kawarthas to sign on to the campaign.
All marina operators are encouraged to join the campaign and pledge to spread the word by signing up at www.bewakeaware.com/#marine-ambassadors.