By Rick Chapman, General Manager of Sunnyside Marina
President of the Midwest Marina Association

The Midwest Marina Association is made up of over 25 Marinas on the St. Croix River, Mississippi River, Lake Minnetonka and Lake Superior. We represent over 6,000 boaters. As President of the Association, I am often asked to speak on behalf of the entire group. The issue of excessive wake created by boats is an issue we all agree on. Some of the marinas in our association are lucky enough to have a “No Wake” zone in front of their marinas, but many are not.

As boats get bigger and bigger, they are creating much larger wakes than in the past. Although every boater should be aware they are responsible for their own wake and any damage it may cause to the shoreline, other boats and other docks, boaters are sometimes unaware of the wake their own boat is actually creating.

We witness this every weekend at Sunnyside Marina on the St. Croix River. We see boats passing our marina at the worst possible speed creating the largest possible wake. You can see the bow of the boat up and the stern squatting down in the water. As we watch these boats going past our marina, we brace ourselves for the wake that will follow in a few minutes time. If the boat was either up on plane or running at closed throttle, this type of excessive wake would not happen. Creating this wake is not intentional on the part of the operator of the boat, they are simply not aware.

In addition to the damage that can be done to the shoreline, other boats and other docks, there is always a possibility of hurting someone. People that are out fishing, kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding are extremely vulnerable to these types of large wakes. People who are walking on a dock or inside their own boat while it is docked or anchored, are also vulnerable to these kind of wakes. We are always worried about what could happen if someone fell in the water in one of our slips while a large wake was coming through causing a large boat in the slip to rock violently back and forth in the slip. What if that person were a small child? It could be the worst kind of disaster.

At Sunnyside Marina, we have recently installed a camera at the end of our Gas Dock to watch for any boats creating an excessive wake. In the event that damage is caused by that wake, we will have the ability to identify the boat and hold that boat operator responsible.

Please be aware of your own wake. It is the courteous thing to do and the right thing to do.