You’ve been planning this trip for weeks.
You and your friends are renting jet skis, maybe even borrowing a friend’s boat, and you’ve packed the life jackets, sunscreen, a kill switch, drinks, and you are more than ready for a day on the water.
Maybe it’s your first visit to a Brazos River Authority reservoir. Or maybe you’re a regular at either Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury or Lake Limestone. Either way, make sure everyone is clear about what a No Wake Zone is, where they are located, and that a violation could be costly in many ways.
No Wake Zones are nothing new to Texas reservoirs. And since 1975, the state has had laws in place within the Texas State Water Code regulating hazardous wake or wash for public safety.
Essentially, “no wake” means no waves. A wake is a wave created by the passage of a watercraft.
No Wake Zones are marked by tall, slender white buoys that have the words, Slow No Wake, in black capital letters with the word “No” in an orange circle. Orange lines box in the words on the top and the bottom.
It’s basically an area of the lake where watercraft are required by law to move very slowly.
No Wake Zones are the area where boats and personal watercraft must operate at a slow headway speed that does not create a wake or swell. This zone includes areas within 50 feet of the shoreline or any boathouse, dock or other lakeshore facility, including an occupied watercraft or an area where people are swimming or diving. No Wake Zones are used to mitigate hazards to boating safety.
And whether a watercraft operator is in a No Wake Zone or not, the Texas Water Safety Act states a boat operator is always responsible for the wake caused by a boat until it flattens out. That means a watercraft operator can be held responsible for injury to people or damage caused by a wake to another person’s property, whether that’s a floating dock or a moored watercraft.
Lake rangers and game wardens also patrol for violators of No Wake Zones. The Class C ticket would cost a boater up to $500.
So, what’s the best way to avoid fines and liability?
Slow down whenever passing within 500 feet of a small boat, the shoreline or a marina, even if there are no posted no-wake zones. Distances beyond that allow the wake’s waves to spread out and get rounder, disrupting other boats less and causing less erosion.
Slow down in advance of a No Wake zone. Chopping the throttles while arriving doesn’t alleviate the wake’s effect. And, when in a no-wake speed, remember neutral trim allows your boat to proceed with the smallest wake.
No Wake Zones aren’t put in place just to create headaches. The zones are to help lessen hazards and keep all the lakes’ guests safe.