Rules exist on Michigan lakes to avoid mishaps, and sometimes questions arise as to what they are.  Here is a look at some of them.

The State of Michigan has published a boater’s handbook which you can download by clicking here.  The Michigan Lakes & Streams Association has also summarized rules.  Some may find the writing style of the latter easier to follow than the State version.  Click here for the link.

On a weekday, you may have Clark Lake all to yourself.  Not so on busy weekends.  At those times, understanding these rules may prevent hassles. The following five points are directly quoted from the MLSA website:

1. Sailboats have the right-of-way to motorboats while they are under sail power.

2. Motorboats shall give way to non-motorized vessels.

3. When two vessels are approaching each other head-on, or nearly so, the operator of each shall cause his vessel to pass on the port (left) side of the other (i.e. keep the approaching boat to your left).

4. When over taking a vessel proceeding in the same direction, the operator of the over taking vessel, unless it is not feasible to so do, shall pass on the port (left) side of the vessel ahead (i.e. keep the overtaken boat to your right).

5. When two vessels are approaching each other at right angles or obliquely so as to involve risk of collision, the operator of the vessel which has the other on his own port (left) side shall hold his course and speed, and the operator of the vessel which has the other on his own starboard (right) side shall give way to the other by directing his course to starboard so as to cross the stern of the other vessel or, if necessary to do so, shall slacken his speed, stop or reverse.

From the State of Michigan handbook:

The MLSA rules don’t mention anchored boats, but the State version does.  Any boat, including sailboats, must give way to an anchored boat.

MLSA states that motorboats should travel in a counter-clockwise direction when “reasonably possible.”  Their post also states water skiing rules (permitted between one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset).

Recently, Columbia Township Police followed up on a jet ski noise complaint.  According to MLSA, this is the rule: “Motorboats are required to have mufflers or an underwater exhaust system such that it does not produce sound levels in excess of 90 dB when subjected to a stationary (neutral) sound level test of it’s engine at no closer than one meter (3.3 feet).”  Phone apps can be downloaded to measure decibel (db) readings.  The decibel scale is logarithmic.  Click here for a website that explains how to interpret sound measurements.

In 2015, Beth June researched boating safety certificates which was published on this website.  You can access them by clicking here. 

How busy is the lake on a holiday weekend?  Here’s a flashback to Independence Day 2021.