Group weighs options to slow boaters down

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comMay 3, 2014 

— A localized speed limit is one option for a tricky stretch of Lake Wylie coves, but not the one marine commissioners will likely choose.

The Lake Wylie Marine Commission met last week, hearing updates on items including a problem area between Tailrace Marina and the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Tailrace rents kayaks, canoes and paddleboards in an area where motorized boat traffic is significant.

“It’s under discussion now as to what we can do,” said Brad Thomas, commission chairman.

The commission recognizes “the potential for a problem,” he said. A discussion last week centered on setting a speed limit just for the paddling area.

“We’re looking at options to slow the traffic down,” Thomas said.

Conversation steered from the speed limit to a no wake zone, which is a type of speed limit but commissioners say will be more easily enforced. A no wake zone is “probably the direction we’re going,” Thomas said. State resource agencies approve and enforce no wake zones, but the commission would install buoys.

Tailrace manager Ken Cottesays a no wake zone “is probably going to be the ultimate solution.”

But, he said, it’s incomplete. Cotte wants more education for boaters and paddlers.

“I’ve been working with the marine commission on this for two years,” he said. “There are issues, and we try to work on the education process.”

Tailrace, which also rents pontoons, puts about 5,000 paddlers on the water each year. The whitewater center puts about 70,000. Cotte said it isn’t uncommon on weekends to see people skiing 10 feet off a dock there.

“It’s a bottleneck,” Cotte said.

A recent festival at the whitewater center brought out paddlers and Cotte saw a skier go through several dozen, causing some paddleboarders to fall into the water. He said he won’t paddle there anymore.

Cotte said the no wake zone is important as northern parts of Lake Wylie are becoming more developed, thus more motor boats.

Another issue discussed at last week’s meeting is bottle fishing. In “pockets of different areas,” Thomas said, anglers are hooking lines to bottles and letting them float, then returning to pick up the bottles in hopes of finding a fish on the line. Residents’ complaints about trash led to an investigation.

“It is legal to do if all the bottles are marked with name, address and phone number,” Thomas said.

Anglers can’t anchor them to the lake bed, and all bottles must be collected.

The marine commission is working on plans for the annual fall Riversweep, as summer boating season gears up.

“I’m sure everyone has a severe case of spring fever,” Thomas said of traffic on the lake, “so I’m sure it’s going to be crowded.”

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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