A view of the Lake Leelanau Narrows

Lake Leelanau Narrows Boating Etiquette

Some areas of Lake Leelanau require special attention and protection. The Lake Leelanau Lake Association wants to educate boaters on how to protect the environment and residents of the Lake Leelanau Narrows. The following article includes a list of rules to help you familiarize yourself with proper boating etiquette.

Dangerous Operation and Unlawful Behavior

The following are examples of dangerous operations and unlawful behaviors while boating through the Narrows:

  • Chasing and feeding wildlife with your vessel.
  • Riding on the bow, gunwales, or transom.
  • “Slow, No Wake Speed” means the slowest speed at which it is still possible to maintain steering while not creating a wake. Your boat speed should be less than five mph. Waves cause damage to the shoreline. Since this is such a narrow area, any waves can erode the shoreline on both sides.
  • Playing loud music. Avoid excessive noise from boat speakers, especially at night time.
  • Pulling a tube with children on it should be avoided in the Narrows. If a child falls off the tube, the boat has to turn around to get the child. This behavior puts children at risk, as other boaters may be coming right in front or behind them.
  • Passing a boat when there is heavy traffic. Please, only pass when no other boats are around.  

Please remember that all of these rules apply to jet skis as well.

No Wake Zone Rules

A “no wake zone” is a section of a waterway with a strict speed limit. When navigating through no wake zones, state and federal regulations require the captain to observe the slowest-possible vessel speed to maintain steerage. Your speed should be no greater than five mph. The goal is to minimize the wake created by boats passing through the zone.

No wake zones may be in place for several reasons. The intention may be to minimize the impact of large wakes when they reach the shore. Large wakes that reach the shoreline can disturb wildlife habitats, cause unnecessary erosion, and put swimmers at risk while enjoying a swimming beach.

  • A no wake zone may be in place to protect a marina, where large wakes could cause boats to strain at moorings or make it difficult for other boat owners to navigate in a confined space.
  • A no wake zone is sometimes in place because the waterway is congested. In this situation, the function of a no wake zone is similar to a speed limit on a city street. If the waterway is narrow and perhaps especially congested, having every boat slow down makes for safer navigation. This is why some no wake zones are only enforced on weekends when there is heavy boat traffic.
  • A no wake zone may also be in a place where sightlines are limited. For example, a channel that passes under a bridge that blocks the view of approaching boats or a sharp bend in a channel or river where boats are likely to meet oncoming traffic.

If you are interested in learning more about no wake zones, please visit Discover Boating's website.

We strongly recommend reviewing the information above and sharing it with your friends to ensure we keep the Lake Leelanau Narrows safe for everyone to enjoy. Should you have questions about the boating etiquette information above, please, submit an inquiry via our contact form or email us at [email protected].

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