A man practices proper paddling safety while kayaking in Lake Leelanau

Lake Leelanau Paddling Safety Update For Summer 2022

Summer on Lake Leelanau is in full swing! The Lake Leelanau Lake Association (LLLA) wants to ensure everyone makes water safety and safety gear your top priority. Check out these simple paddling safety tips, boating safety reminders, and personal flotation device guidance to help you stay safe on the water this summer.

Paddling Safety Tips

This month’s water safety update focuses on one of our favorite summer activities, paddling! The “silent sports” of kayaking, canoeing, rowing, and paddle boarding are a great way to get out on the water and enjoy Lake Leelanau.

With the increased availability and use of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), it is critical to take simple safety precautions. Just as you do when using a jet ski, power boat, or driving your car, do not take paddling safety for granted.

Here are some general rules to follow when taking out a SUP, kayak, or canoe:

  • Always wear a leash when on a SUP and a personal flotation device (PFD) when on any type of watercraft. Leashes save lives by keeping you connected to your board if you fall off and from stressing your body if you have to swim a longer distance. Personal flotation devices, also known as life jackets, keep you afloat. A PFD strapped to your board, or the back of your kayak, will NOT be accessible during an emergency. Please, make sure you wear it.
  • Check the weather before you launch. The LLLA recommends looking at wind speeds, water temperature, approaching storms, etc. If the radar shows strong weather coming through, choose to enjoy the lake on a different day or in a safer way. Storms can come in quickly — do not get caught off guard.
  • File a float plan before entering the water. You should always tell someone where you plan to launch and when you will return. If anything were to go wrong, make sure that someone else is looking out for you. It is better to make a plan and not use it than not have a plan at all and panic in an emergency.

For additional resources and paddling safety infographics, visit the American Canoe Association's website.

A buoy with "Slow No Wake" sign to remind boaters to practice Lake Leelanau boating safety

Boating Safety Reminders

For boaters planning to launch in Lake Leelanau, we ask that you familiarize yourself with Michigan boating laws, including age and operator restrictions. The sheriff is enforcing these laws on the lake.

Please remember that 100 feet from the shore are always a no-wake zone for all motorized watercraft. Help protect people’s property and our lake’s delicate shoreline ecosystem by keeping your distance.

In addition, also remember to keep your distance from the LLLA's dive boats and any dive flags. Please follow these rules to help keep our divers safe as they work so hard to protect our lake.

If you are interested in learning more about Michigan boating laws, please visit Boat-ed.com.

Red and white divers flag in Lake Leelanau

Personal Flotation Device Guidance

Always wear a PFD when boating, paddle-boarding, or paddling (i.e., canoes, surf skis, etc.). But wearing a PDF is not enough. Here is a list of specifications for PFDs:

  • Always wear a PFD — it will keep you afloat.
  • Ensure the PFD is buckled, zipped, or strapped.
  • Make sure the PFD fits properly. Your child may slip out of their life jacket if it is too big. And if it is too small, it may not hold your child up.
  • A PFD strapped to your board or the back of your kayak will NOT be accessible during an emergency. Please, be safe and wear it.

For instructions on how to properly fit a life jacket, click here. The infographic is provided by the BoatUS Foundation.

We strongly recommend making paddling safety and safety gear a top priority to ensure you have a great experience out on the water this summer. Should you have questions about the information above, please, submit an inquiry via our contact form or email us at [email protected].


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