Boating etiquette

Bay is a busy lake, especially on weekends and holidays, with well over 500 cabins and what seems like twice that many watercraft. Boating usage regulations exist, enforced by the Crow Wing County sheriff and deputies, whom we see frequently on the lake, often checking boats for the mandatory items (life jackets, fire extinguishers, etc).  Here are several important DNR regulations:

  • Water-skiing, tubing, wake-surfing and similar acts are prohibited between one half hour after sunset to sunrise of the following day
  • Operation of personal watercraft is allowed only from 9:30 a.m. to 1 hour before sunset.
  • Personal watercraft must travel at slow no-wake speed (5mph or less) within 150
feet of non-motorized boats, shore (unless launching or landing skiers directly to or from open water), docks, swim rafts, swimmers, or any moored or anchored boat.

County regulations restrict water craft to “slow no wake” speeds on the two narrow channels, one that separates the east and west parts of the lake and the second between the eastern end of Church Island and Brighton Point Road; check your map. In all other cases, please create significant distance between your craft and others, whether it be fishing boats, wake boats, kayaks, paddleboards, sailboats, and any other craft. Also, if you are pulling skiers, tubers, or wake boards, please stay to the middle of the main parts of the lake. Large wakes erode shorelines and can damage docks and boats.


General boating courtesies

General boating courtesies include:

  • maintaining a safe distance from other boats,
  • smaller and non-motorized craft have the right of way over larger boats, so give them lots of room,
  • wear life jackets, children under age 12 are required to wear one if the craft is underway,
  • consider a “designated” driver on your craft, a DUI on the water is a serious offense,
  • avoid unnecessary motor noise and loud music, especially early morning or evening.

The “golden rule” applies here; treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.

And always give others a Bay Lake wave!

Wake responsibly

Owning your wake ensures safety on the water and minimizes environmental impact. Control the size and behavior of your boat’s wake to reduce the risk of accidents, especially in crowded waterways, and minimize erosion and disturbance to wildlife.