Watch Your Wake to Minimize Shoreline Erosion

By Gord Chong

I value my cottage time. It’s my get away, and piece of heaven. We live busy lives and the time at our cottage is invaluable. Amongst the many activities, cottagers love boating. But sometimes we forget that our actions on the water can impact the enjoyment of others on the lake or on the land our cottages sit on.  

The vast majority of our fellow boaters follow the rules and respect fellow boaters and cottagers. It is usually the exception where boaters operate unaware of others on our lake and burn through the narrows or run fast and close to the shore without any regard for the damage their wake is causing on their fellow cottagers' property. The majority of the boaters on our lake are cottage owners, so owners need to ensure renters or visitors are aware of the rules that will help everyone enjoy the lake. The impact of poor boating practices can be very harmful to our shoreline and the wildlife (think of our nesting loons!) in addition to the annoyance of those that reside in those narrows.  

A long time Paudash cottager once told me about how her shoreline has been impacted by boaters coming too fast and too close to it. Below is a picture of what constant wave action has done to hershoreline, with an undercut developing and exposing the tree roots.  There are enough natural waves without close shore boating contributing additional waves to the natural erosion process.  

Understanding your wake, and knowing where you are on the lake is critical to minimizing the impact of boating wakes on our lake. So when the weather warms up, ice breaks and you put your boat in the water here are some simple guidelines to follow that will increase the enjoyment of our lake for everyone! 

1. Watch Your Speed: The maximum speed allowed by law is 10 km/hr within 30 metres (or 100 feet) of the shoreline. Another way to gauge this is if your boat is 6-7 metres/20 feet, then 100 feet is 5 times your boat length.  Generally boats operating within these guidelines generate a wave ~12.5 cm or 5 inches which does not cause significant shoreline damage. 

2. Be Gentle on the Narrows: there are a number of narrow points on our lake. Please respect these locations and the people who own cottages in those narrows. Boat slowly, minimize your wake, and enjoy the scenery.  You may even get a smile and wave!  

3. Understand your Wake: Below is a great guide to understand which boating state causes the largest and most damaging wakes. 


Please minimize your transition speed stage.  For those owning Wake Boats, please be aware that due to the design, these boats create larger wakes and so please be aware of your wake's impact on others. There are some cottage associations working on putting in rules for Wake Boats to operate 100-300 metres from shore. 


Before criticizing someone for improper wake management, remember you could be that person whose boat wake impacts someone else’s property. So next time, when it is safe, take a look back at the impact your wake may or may not be having on our shoreline or fellow boaters. 


Above all use common sense. Proper respect on the water and understanding our impact on our land is important. Please be aware of your wake.  Your fellow cottages and the many wildlife inhabitants of the shoreline will be eternally grateful.