Half of 2015 is past. The highlights are yet to come. Celebrate the last half–the BEST HALF–of summer at Lake Panorama.

Pardon us if we write too much about safety. We never want safety to be taken for granted, whether while participating in water contact recreation, playing golf, riding bikes, working in the yard, or whatever activity one finds oneself doing. Boating safety is of particular importance. Navigation buoys are the principal means of communicating traffic related rules at the lake.

The traffic pattern (the counter-clockwise boating) in the narrow portion of the lake is critically important for safe boat operation. This long-established pattern focuses on using the center-line buoys that mark the middle of the channel as “keep right” buoys. Be sure vessel operators are familiar with this important fact. Those buoys are what keeps traffic in its own lane and helps to avoid what could otherwise be collision chaos. The only large area where the pattern does not apply is in the main basin, that portion of the lake essentially visible from ¬†State Highway 4.

Towing Restrictions–There is one area of the lake, affectionately referred to as “the Narrows” that truly is a narrow stretch of water. Beginning Memorial Day weekend this year, that section has special buoys indicating the area that towing activities (skiing, tubing, wake-boarding, knee-boarding, and wake-surfing) are prohibited between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on holidays and weekends (holidays this year include July 3 and September 7.) This area is simply too crowded for safe operation of towing activities during these hours. Watch for the flagged buoys that mark each end of the Narrows.

Hazard buoys mean what they say. The buoys are located near underwater objects–rocks, shallows, reefs, etc.–that can take off a propeller or a lower unit. If the buoy says hazard…avoid it or avoid the area.

Speed Limit buoys– The lake has two speed limit buoy types–those that say 10 mph limit and those that say “no wake.” These are meant to regulate speed in Lake Panorama Cove areas–to slow boats from creating high wakes or to completely reduce wake in the far upper end of each cove. These limits have been established for years and have worked fairly well.

Night Travel–The Lake has a 10 mph speed limit at night. Although the center-line buoys have navigation lights that flash at regular intervals, provided they have not suffered storm or other damage, there are no other lights marking lake features except the beacon in the lighthouse at the Marina jetty. Vessels are to follow safety rules regarding nighttime operation, need to have their proper running lights on after sunset and, if to be operated safely, need to have an experienced driver, who familiar with the lake’s traffic pattern and coves, behind the wheel.

Sailing–sailing isn’t prohibited at Lake Panorama, but with the traffic regulations, it can be very difficult to do safely. We only have a couple of registered sailcraft on the lake, who are well aware of the issues.

Canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, paddleboards—these slow moving craft must keep toward shore during busy boating hours and may be asked to move to a safe location away from motorboat and personal watercraft operation during busy days. Its for the safety of all. There are many, many more hours of quiet waters in early mornings and evenings almost every day and even quiet weekdays where these activities are welcome and much more enjoyable. Timing is everything. All coves are suitable for paddlecrafts at all times due to the speed limits already imposed in those areas.

Since Lake Panorama, by law, is subject to the Iowa boating regulations as well as further restrictions and limitations imposed by the LPA, be sure every vessel has personal flotation devices appropriate and approved for use for each and every passenger. Be sure operators are familiar with boating rules and etiquette, best achieved by passing the online boating safety course available through the Iowa DNR. Observers are required for towing activities. Every boat has a capacity limit that must not be exceeded. In Iowa, every passenger counts, no matter what size they are. One issue that is seldom violated, but important, is that persons being towed count as passengers even though they are not in the boat, since they may have to be in the boat at any given time. LPA rules are also more restrictive on personal watercraft (jet skis, waverunners). Operators must be at least 16, and if under 18, must have a certificate showing they have taken and passed the boater safety course through the Iowa DNR.

Enjoy the rest of the summer…looking toward Panorama Days, the first weekend of August, and for every other summer day’s enjoyment. Be careful and have fun….

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