On Lake Norman, it is unlawful to operate a vessel greater than no-wake speed within 50 yards of a vessel-launching area, bridge, dock, pier, marina, vessel storage structure or vessel-service area.
While no-wake buoys serve as reminders around bridges, boat-access areas and certain marinas, the regulation is in effect even where warnings aren’t present.
The no-wake rule is somewhat confusing. There are some who think it means idle speed, while others believe it is 5 mph. “No wake” means no appreciable wake. Simply stated, if you have a wake behind the boat, particularly white water, you are traveling too fast in a no-wake zone.
No-wake zones identified with buoys are usually in congested areas that bear the skipper’s undivided attention. Buoys are in places where boat traffic is busier than normal and/or places that are so narrow that boat wakes can do harm to moored boats, dock structures and shorelines. To be on the safe side, no-wake zones should be given the same respect and considerations that are afforded to school zones on land.
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Boat wakes can make for bumpy and sometimes unsafe rides even in open water. Smaller vessels should try to avoid high boat-traffic areas, and keep a vigilant lookout for any abnormally large waves or choppy seas they create. If and when a big wake is encountered, consider these tips for crossing it safely:
Avoid taking the wave(s) head on.
Ask that everyone aboard be seated and face forward.
Slow the vessel while maintaining forward momentum.
Cross the wave(s) at a slight angle.
Overtaking a vessel pulling a large wake
Stay a safe distance behind.
Choose a side to pass.
Give one short blast of your horn to warn that you are turning to your starboard side; two blasts if you are turning port side.
Turn vessel at a 45-degree angle.
Increase speed slightly and pass a safe distance from behind the vessel being overtaken.
As your bow passes the crest of the wave, increase speed slightly to avoid falling into the trough of the wake.
As the stern clears, increase rpms to cruising speed and get back on course.
Finally, a request to any vessel pulling large wakes: Remember the little boats, canoes, kayaks, john boats and other vessels filled with people relaxing and enjoying a day on the lake. Don’t spoil their day by rocking and rolling them with your boat’s wake.
Free safe-boating class: “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be the topic 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd., Cornelius. Becky Johnson and I will cover topics that include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “The 10 Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley at 704-892-7575.
Free fishing seminar: “How to Use Topographic Maps to Improve Your Fishing” will be discussed 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. Jake Bussolini and I will conduct this all-new seminar, which will cover the basics of interpreting topographic maps and will pinpoint some of the best fishing locations on Lake Norman. Call 704-658-0822 for information.
Tip from Capt. Gus
Remember, you are responsible for any damage your boat wake causes.
Hot Spots of the Week
Blue catfish are hitting near the dam at the lower end of the lake. Soft plastic lures are catching bass under deep-water docks and boat houses. Jigging spoons and bucktail jigs are catching spotted bass, hybrid striped bass, white perch and flathead catfish in Mountain, Reed and Davidson creeks. Channel catfish are hitting a wide variety of stink baits fished from piers and boat docks.
The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the 80s in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 1.2 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.0 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.