Boaters all smiles as lake launches reopen

A summer tradition is back riding the waves.

Colin Baiko was among the first to arrive at the Paddlewheel Park launch with his boat after it reopened Friday.

“We will go and enjoy the sun, swim and relax,” said the local resident.

The launch was closed May 17 because of high water on Okanagan Lake.

Also on Friday, the City of Vernon installed signs at the launch to remind boaters that the lake level remains high and to reduce their wake to prevent flooding lakeshore properties.

It’s advice Baiko supports.

“Go slow and take your time. We’re not in a hurry,” he said.

“The lake is still approximately 20 centimetres above full pool, which means that the shoreline is still susceptible to damage from wave action caused by boats,” said Tanya Laing Gahr, Vernon’s communications officer.

Laing Gahr doesn’t anticipate the warning will change even once the lake has dropped back to full pool.

“Regardless of the level of the lake, boat wakes do cause damage to shorelines, which is why the law regarding speed near the shore is in place,” she said.

Transport Canada rules state that anyone operating a power-driven boat must adhere to a speed limit of 10 kilometres per hour within 30 metres of shore. But slower speeds are encouraged while water levels remain high.

In Coldstream, the Kalavista Drive boat launch reopened Friday.