Wake up to the Wake
As the warm weather brings more boaters out on the water, we are seeing a number of safety violations as well as inconsiderate boating habits. Here are some of the most common.
Be aware of your wake. Most of our boats on Oswego Lake are in the "no wake” range from 0-5 mph, and they plane somewhere around 18mph. The problem area is when boats are “plowing or mushing” at speeds from 6-15 mph. This window of speed is a major culprit behind our rough water on busy days. If you are not engaging in towing a wake surfer, wake boarder or tube there is no viable reason to be cruising at this wake inducing range of speed. If you have to stand or sit on the bolster to see over your bow while cruising, your resulting wake is adding to the rough seas. Not only is the wake at full throw, fuel consumption is the worst, the boat is at its least controllable state and the visibility is at its least making for inefficient, unsafe and discourteous boating. The experiences of our staff during the boat parade and while staging the fireworks barge tell us that many boaters are not aware of this fact. In fact, many of them appeared to be slowing to maximum wake speed in an effort to be polite, many of them giving a smile and a friendly wave as frantic preparations were made to try and keep band and gear on the barge.
Awareness is the solution as I am sure we all would like calmer waters ahead. The Safety Committee is working with Lake Patrol on implementing wake awareness questions and testing for new boaters at point of licensing. But this issue will require thoughtful driving by all. If you have interest in being a part of the discussion I encourage you to lend your voice to the safety committee. The board is always looking for those interested in helping. Please call the Lake Corp office to find out more about the committee.
Slower boats stay to your right to allow boats to pass safely - Please stay close to the buoy line when doing your slow (no wake) cruises. By not staying right, the boats that want to pass are forced to go around into oncoming traffic or pass on the right which puts them close to the buoy and possibly in violation of the 100 foot rule as explained below. Pretty easy concept as it is the same on roads as we let faster vehicles pass on the left.
The 100-foot rule - Boaters must maintain a 100-foot distance from paddled craft and swimmers when at speed. Boaters can be closer but only at no wake speeds. The violations we are seeing are boats at speed just outside the buoy line with paddlers and swimmers just on the inside of the buoy line. In these cases, the 100 feet requirement is not met, regardless of both participants being on the correct side of the buoys. This is in violation of Oregon Marine rules and Lake Patrol has, and will be, continuing to cite for this violation, as safety is our number one priority on the lake.
I ask that we all thank and appreciate our lake patrol, regardless of the situation. My daughter just received her limited boaters license for using a little boat on the lake. We had a lengthy discussion that the Lake Patrol is there to HELP, and if they pull her over to "smile, listen and thank them" for helping you become a better boater. She got pulled over the first week and had a positive experience…. “They just wanted to make sure I knew where all my stuff was and they were really nice about it!” I think this interaction is very common in that it is a positive experience and good for all of us that are out there.
Our mission at the Lake Oswego Corporation can be summarized as “to be good stewards of the lake." This goes well beyond environmental, water quality and infrastructure management. This means taking care of the people and the benefits this wonderful lake brings.
Thank you, be safe and enjoy!