By Gus Gustafson
On a busy Lake Norman afternoon, boat wakes can be the nemesis that takes the fun out of boating. It is particularly aggravating when a vessel, pulling a large wave behind it, comes close enough to an anchored boat to cause it to rock and roll. One that blasts off before reaching open water, destroying the tranquility of a cove, is no fun either.
Boat wakes are defined as “the waves created by a vessel moving through the water.” In order to protect people and property from the havoc this causes, certain areas have been designated as “no wake zones.” Wake free areas are located around bridges, boat basins, narrow coves and fixed structures along the shoreline. When approaching a no wake zone, slow the vessel to idle speed.
On Lake Norman it is unlawful to operate a motor vessel at greater than no-wake speed within 150 feet of a vessel launching area, bridge, dock, pier, marina, vessel storage structure or vessel service area. The distance for personal watercraft is 100 feet. In most instances, no-wake speed is the slowest a vessel can operate and still maintain safe steerage.
Boaters should view a no-wake zone in much the same manner as motorists do a school zone: The two are similar, in that both are located in tight, congested areas with a higher than normal risk of harming property and limb.
Of particular concern is the effect boat wakes have on personal property and the damage they cause to docks and the vessels tied to them. The law states that any fixed structure is considered to be in a no wake zone, regardless of whether a notice is posted.
The good news is that most skippers are conscious of what wakes can do to other vessels and shorelines. They understand that not only is it common courtesy to control the wake, but the law dictates that operators are responsible for the damages a wake might cause.
Before passing, slow down and keep as much distance as possible from the other vessel. This minimizes the effect of wakes from either boat.
Hot Spots of the Week
Catfishing has been excellent at Cowan’s Ford Dam, the site of another massive striper kill. Catfish are feasting on the dead stripers, and fishermen are using the dead fish for bait.
Up-lake, bass anglers are catching limits on Carolina rigged soft plastics. The bigger bass are on drops and deep points in water to 30 feet. Smaller spotted bass are surface feeding on shallow points and hitting a variety of top water lures. White perch fishing is also very good, with many boats catching a hundred or more per trip.
Lake Norman’s lake level is about 3 feet below full pond and 2.9 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake. The surface water temperature is near 90 degrees in water not affected by power generation.