July 9, 2020
Boat Right, Be Polite

After the July 4 weekend, a number of Lake of Bays Association members emailed us expressing concern about boating behaviour on the lake. We figured it's a good time to remind everyone of the rules of boating-- Boat Right; and the etiquette of boating--Be Polite.

Residents along the Oxtongue and South Muskoka Rivers expressed particular concern. Remember these water bodies are particularly congested and require extra attention to your speed, wake and proximity to others and the shoreline. The Oxtongue River has a posted speed limit of 9 km/h.

It’s the law! Don’t forget these important rules…
  • The speed limit is 10 km/h within 30 metres of shore.
  • All boat operators must carry their original Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card on board.
  • Operating a boat carelessly, without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for others is an offense under the Small Vessel Regulations.
  • Operating a boat while impaired is a criminal offense. Impaired boaters are subject to the same suspension penalties that apply to impaired automobile drivers. Alcohol and cannbis cannot be consumed by the operator or passengers while the vessel is underway. Alcohol and cannabis can be consumed on a boat anchored or secured to land or dock and being used as a residence, provided the boat is equipped with cooking, sleeping and sanitation devices.
Be Polite:
  • Please use common sense and be mindful of how your activity is impacting those around you.

Personal Watercraft
Your boat is designed for joyriding, so go out and have fun. But be careful. Personal watercraft are involved in a disproportionate share of boating accidents.
Boat Right:
  • Operators must be over 15, and have an operator’s card on board.
  • When towing, you must have an operator, a spotter and a seat available for each person being towed.
Be Polite:
  • Keep well away from small boats and people. Buzzing or circling around canoes and kayaks or swimmers poses a safety hazard.
  • If you must do repetitive doughnuts, go to the middle of the lake.
  • Avoid maneuvers close to other vessels, even if they’re friends or relatives.
photo by Paul Madder
Water-skiing, Boarding and Tubing
Your first consideration in any of these activities should be safety - and if you’re operating safely, you’re much less likely to annoy your neighbours as well.
Boat Right:
  • Towboats must have an operator, a spotter and a seat for each person being towed.
  • Do not tow before sunrise or one hour after sunset.
  • Those towed must wear an approved personal flotation device.
  • Know and obey the right-of-way rules.
  • You can take off from shore at speed provided you drive straight out from shore.
Be Polite:
  • Keep well beyond the 30-metre limit to avoid swimmers and boaters near shore.
  • Don’t swing your riders in front of other people’s docks. Drop them outside the 30-metre limit or come in and out perpendicular to your dock.
  • Avoid multiple runs in the same area. Vary your route to share the pain.
  • Keep a safe distance from other tow boats, which stop and turn unpredictably.
  • Don’t tow around canoes, kayaks, sailboats or small outboards. They may cross your rider’s path, and your wake can capsize them.
  • Avoid towing in rivers or narrows. Your ability to avoid other boats is limited.
  • Concentrate! Most boating incidents are caused by operators not paying attention. Boat operators must look ahead. Spotters look behind.

Watch Your Wake
  • Your wake is damaging to docks, moored boats, shorelines, waterfowl nests and other sensitive wildlife.
  • If you are wake-boarding or wake-surfing, please stay at least 300 metres offshore. The 30-metre limit is not enough for your wake to dissipate.
  • Know your boat’s no-wake speed and use it in no-wake zones.

Noisy Boats
Boats with little or no muffling are a great source of annoyance to others.
Boat Right:
  • Current legislation requires that a boat must be five nautical miles offshore to operate without a muffler, so there is nowhere on Lake of Bays where a boat can legally operate without a muffler (some antique boats manufactured without a muffler are the only exception).
  • A proper muffler system blows the exhaust from the engine through the propeller hub under the water.
  • Boats equipped with a ‘silent choice’ switch must have the switch mounted away from the helm so that the operator cannot operate the switch while driving.
  • The fine for operating a boat without a muffler is $500.
Be Polite:
  • Muffle your engine. You are destroying the peace and being disrespectful of those around you.
photo by Katherine Orr
To report unsafe boating to the OPP
Call 1-888-310-1122
or Dial
*OPP (*677) on your cell phone
Make sure you have the facts available when you call
Click here to see the information the OPP needs

Additional Resources
Reading, interesting links and events

Township of Lake of Bays

Wearing of face coverings in indoor public spaces mandatory for Simcoe Muskoka starting July 13
photo by Elisha Ballantyne
The purpose of the Lake of Bays Association is to promote, sustain and enhance a clean and healthy natural environment, a well serviced community and a safe and peaceful Lake of Bays.

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