An excellent reason to conduct a Clark Lake boat count each year is that things change. And 2014 is no exception!

Sun rising behind Eagle Point, shining through fog on the morning of the boat count, July 4th

Sun rising behind Eagle Point, shining through fog on July 4th, the morning of the boat count

The total number of boats on Clark Lake is greater than it has ever been—1,393. That exceeds the previous high water mark of 1,312 in 2012. Last year the number was down to 1,254 only to bounce beyond previous highs in 2014.

Rafts still own the lake. The count reveals 562, up from 523 last year, and exceeding the previous high of 556 in 2012.

Clark Lake has fewer powerboats of various kinds than it did in 1960. In 1960, the total was 436—in 2014, 276. Could it be that people prefer the ease of their increasingly luxurious  rafts over the speedboat experience? The number of outboards, inboards, and jet boats declined. There are more inboard-outboards (I/O’s) this year—128, but that’s less than the peak in 2005 of 172. The number of fishing boats increased to 36, but a whole lot less than the 169 recorded in 1967.

Jet skis grew in number (130), though that’s a long way from the peak reached in 2005 (196).

There are two big gainers in the personally-propelled watercraft section. Kayaks continue to multiply like Clark Lake chipmunks—164 in 2013 to 193 in 2014.  Kayaks have never dipped from one year to the next so that the upward trajectory remains intact.

Bill Tuttle (standing), Jim Tuttle (with hoodie) and Jim Bretes (also seated)

Bill Tuttle (standing), Jim Tuttle (with hoodie) and Jim Bretes (also seated)

A new category enters this year’s count—paddle boards. It’s not that paddle boards haven’t been seen on the lake before, but the current iteration is new to the Clark Lake scene. These paddle boards make it easy (sort of) to stand and paddle and even do yoga or acrobatics on them. The 2014 count reveals 38 of them.

The number of sailboats went from 41 last year to 51 this year. The 2013 count showed 24 Hobie Cats. That grew to 38 this year, perhaps because of the Fleet 58 Reunion and Regatta. The number of sailboats in the water at the Clark Lake Yacht Club is 36, but there are 22 more on dry dock on trailers. The Yacht Club indicates that those do into the lake. So there are times when the number of sailboats on the lake gets a boost.

More swim rafts follow the shoreline with the highest number ever of 30, up from a previous high of 26 in 2006.

It’s interesting to compare the number of boats moored at the various clubs to the number at the docks of individual residences. 26% of Clark Lake’s boats are moored at clubs, about the same as last year.

Counting crew member Steve Wawro

Counting crew member Steve Wawro

This percentage depends a lot on the number of lakefront homes—the number used in this calculation is 350. The number of houses likely will continue to decline as lots are combined–with smaller structures coming down and fewer larger structures replacing them.  This will certainly affect the percentage in future years.

There are 2.9 boats per house, and that’s up from 2.7 in 2013.

The total number of watercraft at the clubs is larger than ever—367 in 2014 compared to the previous high of 356 in 2012. The biggest number is at Eagle Point, followed in this order–the Beach and Boat Club (Consumers), the Clark Lake Yacht Club and the Beach Bar.

Because rafts once again are number one, here are some breakouts about where they live. There are 90 rafts at Eagle Point, 59 at the Boat and Beach Club, 59 at the Beach Bar and 1 at the Yacht Club. The other 353 are moored at individual residences.

The boat count on July 4th started at 6 am. The count is traditionally taken on July 4th with the presumption that all boats that are going in the water for the season are moored at docks or the immediate shoreline, by this date.

left to right: Jim Tuttle (in shadow), Jim Bretes, Steve Wawro (standing), Bill Tuttle Iseated) Rick Belcher (not pictured)

left to right: Jim Tuttle (in shadow), Jim Bretes, Steve Wawro (standing), Bill Tuttle Iseated) Rick Belcher (not pictured)

And at 6 am, the vast majority of boats are not in use, promoting a more accurate count. The weather on the Fourth offered a special challenge. It was not only chilly (in the low 50’s), but foggy, especially in the cove on the east side of Eagle Point. But the crew was determined to take an accurate count.

Since 1987, Bill Tuttle has conducted the count. He took over after Bowser Eagy’s passing.  Bowser’s data from 1961 to 1986 are missing and have never surfaced. Assisting Bill for this year’s count were Jim Tuttle (Bill’s brother), Steve Wawro, Jim Bretes and Rick Belcher. Frank and Josie Hones conducted the count in the Pierce’s Bay area. Hugh Harris provided the data for the boats at the Clark Lake Yacht Club.

Below you will find a spreadsheet with lots of detail.  To enlarge, click or tap.  To reduce, click or tap again. Yellow indicates a high number; blue, a low number:

Boat count 2014 07-10v2