Memorial Day Weekend, Aquapalooza, 4th of July, Shootout, two Harbor Hops… the list goes on when it comes to busy summer events at Lake of the Ozarks. On top of holidays and events, the Lake is a premier destination spot for many out-of-state boaters. With that being said, it is no wonder the Lake can get pretty busy on the weekends. Therefore, safety during these less than ideal conditions should be a top concern.
Here are our top 10 tips for busy boating weekends at Lake of the Ozarks:
- Know Your Boat. We recommend you being a somewhat seasoned boater when it comes to boating during hectic weekends at the Lake. Insufficient knowledge will work against you when it comes to docking and operating your boat in rough conditions. This is especially true for boaters who operate small pontoons and bowriders since wakes during these busy weekends can potentially swamp them.
- Know the Busy Days. It goes without saying that during busy weekends, certain days will be busier than others. Since most people are traveling to the Lake on Friday, Friday afternoon is typically not that busy. The same goes for Sunday since a good amount of boaters are traveling back home. However, if it is a three-day weekend, you can expect Sunday will be another busy day on the lake. (See our list of can’t miss events at the Lake here).
Photo Credit: Sky View Photography
- Don’t Rush. Coming up with a plan before setting out for a day of boating is ideal when it comes to a busy weekend. You and your group should know where you are meeting, what time you are meeting, and where you are going throughout the day. This just prepares you and allows everyone to be on the same page.
- Designate First Mates. If you have at least one or two experienced other boaters on board with you, your trip will be a lot smoother. You will have people to help you out when it comes to navigating, docking, and operating your vessel. Having experienced boaters on board with you can also come in hand in the worst case scenario.
- Watch Your Invites. Everyone wants to be on their friends’ boat during the Summer. However, there is a capacity limit on most boats. It is important that the captain is comfortable with the number of people on the boat. After all, they are responsible for all their passengers.
- Arrive Early. If you want a guaranteed spot to dock your boat and to get into your destination without any hassle, it is best to arrive early. It goes without saying that many other boaters are probably heading to the same places as you are, so be prepared. For instance:
Coconuts on a holiday weekend: arrive by 11 AM
Aquapalooza: arrive by 8 AM
Shootout: arrive by 8 AM
Photo Credit: Sky View Photography
- Allow for Additional Time. More boats plus more waves means allowing for more time to arrive at your destinations and to dock. Be patient and considerate of other boaters. Safety should be your number one concern.
- Be Up To Date. At the beginning of your boating season, make sure you have all your safety equipment ready to go. Additionally, make sure your registration is up to date. If either of these things is not done, it not only affects safety, but will also cause problems should you have a run in with Water Patrol.
- Designate a Driver. Have fun, we encourage it. However, if you plan on drinking on your own boat, hire a designated captain. Sun, wind, and waves, in addition to alcohol, can and likely will result in boaters fatigue; meaning reaction times and situational awareness will decrease. Keep your passengers and yourself safe by hiring a designated captain. Don’t risk getting a BWI/BUI.
- Expect the Lake to be Busy. If you reside anywhere from the 5-35 MM of the Main Channel, expect it to be busy during these weekends at the Lake. It is inconvenient for some, yes, but is expected. If you are looking for some peace and quiet, you may want to take your boat to the less traveled areas of the Lake.
Do you have any other tips for busy boating weekends at Lake of the Ozarks? We’d love to hear them.