Lack of boating etiquette on Whitefish Lake

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Growing up skiing on Whitefish Lake was something I will never forget. I have continued to ski on Whitefish my whole life, and each morning that I get to jump in the water and go for a quick run is the best part of my day.

However, something needs to be done (or at least said) about the lack of boating etiquette and boater knowledge on the lake. Nothing will ruin a good ski run — or even the chance to ski — like a boat pulling a tuber or wake surfer through smooth water, in any and all directions.

During the summer, most mornings have wind that comes from the north end of the lake. Which means the south end is choppy and the north end is smooth. To get good skiing water you have to go to the north end of the lake in the morning hours (any time after 10 a.m. and the whole lake will already be chopped out with boat wakes).

There is a good group of about three boats that ski the north end most mornings, each taking turns running the width of the lake. No two boats run at once, each boat waits its turn. By running the width of the lake, the skiing water remains smooth and the boat’s wake rolls onto shore and out into the chop heading south.

Every once in a while, a boat pulling a tuber, surfer, or wake boarder (or even skier) will come charging through the smooth water, heading in any direction it pleases, and not minding any of the established line-up that is already in place. This absolutely ruins the skiing experience for every other boat there, patiently waiting there turn for smooth water. If that knuckle head of a boater leaves the area, you will have to wait 30 minutes for the water to calm down. If they decide to stay and play on the smooth water — sorry boys and girls, skiing time is over.

Other sports have a clearly defined etiquette and pecking order. In ocean surfing it is policed by locals — cut somebody off and you will get a beating. Take a wave out of turn and you won’t get another wave. There are similar “street rules” in play on basketball courts, hockey rinks, and on the slopes of the mountain.

So, what can be done here? Maybe a boating etiquette plaque posted at each launch site? A handout detailing the rules of the lake to each launcher? Perhaps they could sign it before each launch? I am not sure I have the solution, but let the discussion begin and see what comes.

Redge Bendheim, Whitefish

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