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Dock owners complaining that no-wake zones being ignored
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Bob Zumwalt steers his pontoon boat out of the small cove where he said fishermen sometimes drive out into the lake at a high rate of speed. - photo by Tom Reed
Safe boating
A full list of boating regulations can be found at www.goboatgeorgia.com, but here’s a list of illegal — and dangerous — boating practices:
  • Water-skiing or dropping water-skiers close to swimmers, launching ramps or other boaters.
  • Jumping the wake of another boat within 100 feet of that boat or buzzing other boats.
  • Causing damage from the wake of your boat or PWC.
  • Operating a boat or PWC or towing a person on water skis or any similar device at greater than idle speed within 100 feet of a moored or anchored boat or any boat that is adrift; dock, pier or bridge; person(s) in the water; shoreline adjacent to a full- or part-time residence; public park or beach or a swimming area; marina, restaurant or other public use area.
  • Running around or within 100 feet of another boat at greater than idle speed unless you are overtaking or meeting the other boat in compliance with the rules for encountering other boats.
  • Following closely behind another boat, jumping the wake of the other boat, or changing course or direction in order to jump the wake of another boat.
  • Failing to regulate your speed near swimming areas, docks, moored boats and boats engaged in fishing.
  • Operating a boat or personal watercraft faster than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions (weather or boat traffic).
Source: Department of Natural Resources

Speeding can be as dangerous in the water as it is on land.

With more boats out on nearly full Lake Lanier, boaters speeding near docks has once again become a problem.

Bob Zumwalt, who lives on the lake, said he is concerned by the boats that go too fast in his narrow cove near Duckett Mill Road.

“It’s a situation that’s gone on for years and I can’t understand it,” Zumwalt said. “It’s not necessary for those folks to do that.”

Zumwalt said he has noticed fast boats, such as bass-fishing boats, creating a lot of wake by leaving the narrow cove quickly.

“They turn on their big motor and fly out of here,” Zumwalt said. “I would think bass clubs would know what the rules are.”

Emory Dunahoo Jr., the tournament director for the Lanier Bass Busters, said during tournaments, fishermen will be disqualified for breaking laws such as the 100-foot law that creates a no-wake zone in certain areas.

He said bass fisherman know the rules of the lake, and he thinks the most common violators are those riding personal watercraft.

“(Fisherman) do know the rules and they do pay attention to the rules,” Dunahoo said. “I’m not going to say bass fisherman don’t do it, but the percentages are very low.”

Zumwalt said he is mostly concerned about people’s safety while swimming, though heavy wake can also damage boats by causing them to scrape the sides of docks.

“It’s just like having cars along a narrow street where kids could come out,” Zumwalt said.

According to Sgt. Mike Burgamy of the Department of Natural Resources’ Gainesville Office, all watercraft are required to run at idle speed within 100 feet of a dock or a vessel outside of normal traffic areas.

“That is one of our main complaints we get throughout the year,” Burgamy said.

Burgamy said the “100 foot law” is enforced by DNR officers.

“It’s a misdemeanor violation punishable up to a $1000 fine and or up to one year in jail, however it’s up to the county where the violation occurs what their fine amount is and so forth,” Burgamy said.

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