"Watch Your Wake - Share the Lake" Boater Education Program
Several times every week we get e-mails or calls from members requesting a private “No Wake” buoy. The member then goes on to explain that the damage or danger caused by boat wakes is the reason for the request. They want a buoy placed at the entrance to their slough or in front of their lake home that will cause a boater to operate at idle speed. Although LMRA places all the buoys on Lake Martin, private “No Wake” buoys must be approved by the Alabama Marine Police. (AMP). In the last five years we are not aware of any private “No Wake” buoys being approved by AMP.
We certainly understand the need for a “No Wake” buoy but we can also understand the position of AMP. If one is approved, where will it stop? Boat wakes cause shoreline erosion, seawall damage, damage to floating docks and have been known to throw children off floating docks and wash PWC’s onto docks. When the lake is at full pool, it’s not unusual for a boat wake to wash over a seawall, yard and patio and for a floating dock to do the rock and roll.
Many boaters are just unaware of the damage their boat wake causes. Others appear not to care. There have been reports that when property owners attempt to get a boater to slow to idle speed in their slough, the boat operator often gets angry and makes obscene gestures at the home owner. With the increased interest in wakeboarding and wakeboard boats that are designed to create a large wake, this problem is becoming even more menacing.
In February of 2012, LMRA invited representatives from all the major lakes in Alabama to a meeting in Alexander City to discuss how to address this growing concern. Representatives from ten major lakes, along with the Deputy Commissioner, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Director of AMP attended. All present recognized the damage and danger presented by boat wakes and stressed the need for some type of action to address the problem. Ideas and suggestions from all the participants were subsequently submitted to DCNR for consideration. We wanted a “100-Foot Proximity” ruling that could be legally enforced by AMP. Instead, DCNR decided to go with a massive education program. Even though we are disappointed, LMRA agrees that a strong program is needed to educate the public to the damage and danger caused by their boat wake.
So, the immediate answer is education of boaters on the problems caused by their boat wake. LMRA is fully supportive of this “WATCH YOUR WAKE, SHARE THE LAKE” boater education program. LMRA will continue to address this growing problem through public awareness of the damage and danger caused by harmful boat wakes. But, if you are a boater, we ask that you also help by being alert to your wake. Courtesy and respect for others is the best answer.
As a part of the public education effort, AMP will provide signs for placement at public ramps and marinas that will remind boaters to WATCH YOUR WAKE. LMRA will make available a homeowner sign that can be placed on piers or floating docks to remind the boaters to be considerate of his wake. These signs will be available in the four Russell Marine marinas beginning in October at a cost of $10.
For the many lake homeowners that have expressed a concern about wake damage and have asked to have “No Wake” buoys in front of the property, this may be helpful. It’s the best we can do at this time. We want to get many of these signs out in the sloughs, so they will be a quick reminder to boaters to slow to idle speed. Help us help you by purchasing a WATCH YOUR WAKE sign. Remember, Lake Martin Resource Association is “working for the betterment of Lake Martin” and has been doing so for over 42 years.