OUR MISSION: Make the Muskoka lakes safer and quieter to ensure the sustainable enjoyment of a treasured shared resource
Chair’s Message
Boating is a fun part of the lake experience, and for many a passion! There are many ways to boat, from cruising in a pontoon or antique wooden boat to power boating and tow sports, to zipping along in a PWC. For as many types of boats there are, there are just as many boat operator skillsets.

Unlike driving a car, the only thing you need to get behind the wheel of a boat is an online written exam. Yet boating is more dangerous because there are no road lanes to follow or traffic lights on the water. And there are tricky wind and waves, not to mention many types of vessels and swimmers to look out for.

We believe that everyone can benefit from on-water boating lessons. Especially someone just beginning. I cannot imagine getting behind the wheel of a car the first time without someone coaching me. That’s why car insurance companies give you a discount for taking driving lessons – it makes you a better and safer driver.

A few weeks ago, a long-time supporter of Safe Quiet Lakes who is a captain, pilot and founder of the Power Boating Academy, and has trained with the U.S. Coast Guard wrote to me expressing his concerns. He believes in making boating fun and safe. But as someone who deeply understands how complex it is to become an excellent captain, he wondered why so few people take responsibility for improving their boating skills. He said that almost everyone could benefit from on-water boat training, and offered to give me a free session to demonstrate. I was intrigued and told him that I did not drive a boat but that my husband had been boating for over 20 years. He offered to come to our dock to spend the day with us - teaching me as a beginner and my husband in refining his advanced skills.

Our boat-driving session began with ground training on types of boats, right-of-way rules, understanding what various types of buoys are telling us, the impact of wind and waves along with the joint responsibilities all boaters share on the water.

We then boarded our boat and he gave me detailed beginner instructions on the various gauges and how to steer, slow, accelerate and reverse the throttle and then trim the boat to run more efficiently. He covered how to safely navigate through boat wakes and docking a boat with the ‘secret’ crabbing technique. He went on to spend a little more time with my husband on power boating advanced moves and tight turns. New and informative to both of us were his detailed instructions on what to do in man-over-board scenarios and other emergency situations.

The session really gave me an appreciation of what it takes to be a good boater! The more knowledge you have the safer you and your family will be on the water.

After this very instructive and fun lesson we discussed some of the terrible boating accidents that have occurred over the past few years. How can these be reduced? What can be done to lift the general knowledge and skills of boaters? After discussing this at some length we thought that it would be insightful to hear from others. We welcome any thoughts or ideas that you can offer. Please send your comments to chair@safequiet.ca

Warm regards,

Diana Piquette

Chair, Safe Quiet Lakes
Wakes are making waves, and there’s no sign of dissipating
Boat wakes are a rising concern and a key priority for Safe Quiet Lakes. In our latest Your Lakes, Your Views survey, the largest research of its kind in North America, more than two-thirds of nearly 6,000 respondents find there is a greater impact from boat wakes today than five years ago.

The top concerns cited were erosion of shorelines, damage to docks and vessels, danger to swimmers, people in canoes, kayaks and small boats, and damaging to wildlife.

Almost three quarters (71%) favour minimum distances from the shore for water sports and the same proportion (71%) favour no-wake zones to protect human, animal, bird and plant life. It is worth noting that 92% of respondents rated enjoying nature on the lake or by the shore as a top pleasure. This interest was also a major theme in the thousands of comments received. Conducted in late 2021 by Erin Research Inc. and Algonquin College, this important trend data is the third major survey by Safe Quiet Lakes, with previous releases in 2013 and 2017. 

Safety is an obvious and primary concern – no one wants to see smaller vessels and swimmers being swamped by large boat waves. But there is a growing understanding worldwide of the broader impact from wakes. New research is providing real data on the environmental impact, how boat speed, distance from shore and type of boat determine the force of wakes, even the cost of shore erosion caused by boat traffic.

Faced with this data, and at the urging of concerned citizen groups, a number of jurisdictions worldwide are now considering regulations and guidelines on boat wakes. Safe Quiet Lakes is monitoring these developments and research. Among the latest highlights:

  • Tennessee became the first state to pass a watersport law, effective July 1, that specifically addresses wakesurfing and wakeboarding and distance from shores
  • Quebec homeowners along Montreal’s South Shore of the St. Lawrence River have launched a $50-million class action lawsuit against the federal government that alleges they have experienced worsening shore erosion than would have occurred through natural processes due to ships
  • In February, the University of Minnesota released the findings of research on waves produced by four recreational boats — two wakesurf boats and two typical recreational boats – that determined wakeboat waves were stronger and more forceful, and required distances greater than 500 feet from shore to dissipate.

Stay tuned for future articles exploring how wakes work, the real environmental impact and where wake regulations are headed.

Meantime, you can help educate yourself and others by watching and sharing our short video BE #WAKEAWARE.

In our ongoing efforts to mitigate destructive wakes on the waters we have our NO WAKE signs available. Created in consultation with Transport Canada, we hope to encourage boaters to make the responsible wake choices this summer. Signs cost $20.00 + shipping. Please contact Crystal@safequiet.ca to place an order.
Paddlers' rules of the road
Our June newsletter shared findings of the 2021 Your Lakes, Your Views survey that showed a significant increase in paddling on the lakes. Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding now compose the largest core group of boaters: 86% of nearly 6,000 respondents rated these activities as a core pleasure.
While a fun, invigorating activity, paddling also brings a unique appreciation of risk and vulnerability. As a paddler, you are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of all passengers onboard your vessel. 

At the same time, 90% of respondents in the survey, including 89% of power boat owners, agree that motorboat operators have more responsibility to ensure the safe coexistence of activities on the lake. This is likely due to the fact that many new paddling enthusiasts also have power boats and understand the need to keep an eye out for kayaks, canoes and paddleboards and watch their wakes around smaller watercraft. Remember, the Boater’s Code for respectful boating applies to all.

Here are some rules of the road for human-powered boats to keep in mind:
Don’t forget your lifejackets
Lifejackets or personal flotation devices are mandatory for every person on every boat, including canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. Transport Canada rules say they need to be accessible, but the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) believes that all operators of kayaks, canoes and self-propelled vessels and other boats should wear lifejackets or PFDs when on the water. “We estimate that 100 lives a year could be saved in Canada if people always wore their lifejacket when boating,” the organization says. 
The CSBC has important information on the differences between lifejackets and PFDs and which is better suited to your specific needs and on-the-water activities.
Be seen and heard
Keep a lookout and avoid motorized vessels. Use light and sound to make your presence known to other vessels.
When on the water past sunset or in conditions with restricted visibility, paddlecraft are required to have a working lantern or flashlight shining a white light to warn others of your presence.
Paddlecraft must also carry a sound signalling device onboard -- an electric horn, compressed gas horn or a whistle.
Tipsy paddling is against the law
Alcohol and drug rules also apply to human-powered vessels. No one may operate any vessel while impaired or intoxicated.

Red right, green left
Paddlers also need to follow navigation rules. Keep red cone-shaped markers or buoys on your right (starboard) side. Green can or cylindrical-shaped markers or buoys are to be kept to your left. 
How to be heard above the noise
To email your MP about excessively noisy boats, click here for an automated letter that fills in your representative’s name and email address. Simply input your name and postal code, and any comments you wish to make about loud boats on your lake. Then press Send. So far, around 500 letters have been sent to more than 160 MPs. The more voices, the better!
On the road to regulatory change, the Decibel Coalition continues to work directly with Transport Canada. We look forward to the supportive findings of Transport Canada’s Let’s Talk public consultation being presented at the influential fall meeting of the Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC): More than 2,000 comments, and 89% of respondents in favour of decibel limits on boat motor noise. 
Get Out the Vote: October 24
Decisions made by your local municipal council can have lasting implications on the quality of life in your community. Yet many property owners and renters don’t bother voting in municipal elections or people may be unaware that they can vote in every municipality where they have property – both at the cottage and at home. If you are a Canadian citizen and 18+ years old, you are registered to vote. Tenants are also encouraged to vote. So long as you are a tenant in the municipality on voting day --October 24 -- you are entitled to vote in the municipality. Register on the voters’ list today at VoterLookUp.ca or call MPAC at 1-866-296-6722. Registered voters receive (at your permanent address) voting instructions and PIN numbers in September. Voting will be by telephone or online.
For information about voting and key issues in Muskoka, check out Vote4muskoka.ca compiled by Muskoka Lakes Association, Friends of Muskoka and others.
Join us in helping to keep our waterways safe
We build partnerships to encourage conversations about respectful boating and to lead change through education and advocacy. Your donation will help drive our programs.

Have questions? Contact us at donate@safequiet.ca
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