The risk of “rock ‘n’ roll” boating

Andy Adams

Aug 24, 2021

One of the segments in boating that has done extremely well lately is the area of towed sports and in particular wakeboarding and wakesurfing. In the midst of a major uptick in the overall popularity of boating, these are segments that are outperforming. There’s a looming risk to this however, and that is public backlash from the “rock ‘n’ roll” of towed sports.

Earlier this summer, I spent the weekend with life-long friends on Lake Muskoka and we did a two-hour tour of our favourite places in their 17’ aluminum vee-bottom. The weather was warm, sunny and with just a slight breeze, yet several times we encountered huge rolling waves that sent our bow skyward.

Usually, we could see the huge waves coming, but not every time and we were only going at sightseeing speeds. A performance boat, or even just a family runabout doing 40 could have had a major mishap if they unexpectedly encountered those waves.

To be absolutely clear, I am strongly in favour of common sense and I oppose blanket legislation and restrictions that limit our freedoms as boaters. However, there are other boaters and property owners too, who have every right to protect their shorelines and property from damage and their personal safety on the water.

I wanted to share a video that was produced by three groups; Safe Quiet Lakes, the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association and the Muskoka Lakes Association. They have jointly funded the Be #WakeAware video and education campaign in response to the issue of wakes from wakeboard and surf boats damaging shorelines and disturbing lake recreational activities like swimming and paddling.

My reaction to the video is that it is well scripted and well-produced. The “Be Wake Aware” theme is a thoughtful approach. The voice-over narration reasonably encourages boaters to consider and mitigate the impact of their wakes at all times, particularly by avoiding the shore when towing and surfing.

You might consider sharing this video on your communications platforms to remind all lake users that being respectful of others and watching your wake will make all of our lakes and waterways safer.

I strongly believe that it’s best for the industry to manage our own situation to avoid legislation that tries to manage it for us.

Andy Adams – Editor

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