In September of 2014, the WSIA was made aware of a potential threat to our industry regarding Lake Norman in North Carolina. The lake’s Marine Commission was considering shutting down certain coves on the lake to towed water sports due to complaints from property owners regarding shore erosion and dock damage.
The WSAN (Water Sports Alert Network) was received by the membership of the WSIA and pushed out to dealers and influencers in the area. Larry Meddock traveled to Charlotte to meet with the dealers in the area to discuss a strategy on how to address the Lake Norman Marine Commission and the issue at hand. Consistent with all prior issues regarding alleged property damage and shore erosion, when you “peel the onion,” we find one specific discourteous captain. This specific driver was in a boat with ballast and got into a shouting match with a property owner regarding his boat pattern. That escalated into a war with many of the friends and neighbors in this particular cove against wakeboarders and wakesurfers.
Once the WSIA understood the real issue, it made our approach easier to organize and kept us on point in our meeting with the LNMC. Sunday evening’s meeting was geared to understanding the laws that govern Lake Norman, the four counties that patrol the lake, and the concerns of the lake. Lake Norman does have a legal statute that states a boat on plane cannot drive within 150 feet of a dock, pier, piling or fixed object. We recognized the law, but presented an alternative: you cannot use the statue to close a cove if the real issue can be solved by a brief slow-no-wake zone, only as you enter a narrow opening to a cove. After that bottleneck, drivers should be able to resume normal, safe operation.
A speaker was selected from our Sunday night’s meeting to present the dealer’s concerns to the LNMC on Monday of what appeared to be the arbitrary the placement of “No Wake Zone” buoys. Any arbitrary placement of buoys, without proper study of the impact of those buoys, would not be acceptable to the users of Lake Norman.
Ms. Becky Fox was the appointed speaker flanked by four dealers at the public meeting on Monday night. Becky did an outstanding job at keeping the discussion on track with the facts and not the emotions involved. MasterCraft, Nautique, Malibu, Skiers Choice and Tigé dealers were all represented. Centurion also supported this cause, but could not make the meeting. The biggest surprise came with comments from four lake front landowners that came from the audience and spoke on the rights of ALL boaters on Lake Norman. All four were not necessarily fans of ballasted boats – they all were more into fishing, but all agreed that EVERY boater has a right to be on that lake and if they had to put an extra bolt or screw into their dock in order to have the privilege to live on that lake, then so be it. These individuals felt that it was an honor to live on Lake Norman. They went on to say that Lake Norman already had too many legal and illegal No Wake Zone buoys and requested that they be removed. That request brought the house down in applause.
Becky had three “Asks” from the commission:
- The LNMC look upon the dealers as “partners” in the dealings of Lake Norman
- Use this as an opportunity to “educate” boat buyers on the laws regarding Lake Norman
- Reinstate the buoy placement committee.
The WSIA committed to the LNMC and local dealers, that the WSIA would support and help in any way we could to outline and deliver an educational template to support boater’s education via many of our existing deliverables. This program for supporting dealers for Lake Norman is to be delivered by May of 2015. This was very well received.
As the meeting was closing out, the LNMC made the public aware that they received a request by homeowners to consider the placing of No Wake Zone buoys at the mouth of a certain cove. The LNMC said they will properly “vet” the request and report back to the public during the November LNMC meeting. It is imperative that the local dealers stay engaged in this process and return in November.
The LNMC commented that this meeting was the most attended meeting in the history of the LNMC. The process proved to be a great example of the value of WSAN, though our ability in responding to potential threats and our commitment to support access to all waterways for years to come.
If you are experiencing threats to your waterway usage, call the WSIA HOTLINE at: