Good Question: Is the no wake zone being enforced along the Lake Ontario shoreline?

May 27, 2019 08:30 AM

IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WHEC) — You've probably heard there's currently a no wake zone around Lake Ontario, but many of you told News10NBC that many boaters are not following the rules.

Pat Taney was asked to look into it for this week's Good Question report.


Under a state order, if a boat is within 1,000 feet of the Lake Ontario shoreline, it's not supposed to be going more than 5 mph to prevent flooding.

Bob Matthews, who lives on Irondequoit Bay, says he sees boats breaking the rules every day.

"It seems there is no enforcement," Matthews said. "Every morning, boats leaving the Southpoint Marina speed to the lake to go fishing with no regard for the 5 mph limit along with recreational boaters in the evenings."

He wants to know what's being done to stop it.

We brought his question to Deputy Michael Witthuhn and his partner Deputy Caitlyn Colburn, both members of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit. They haven't issued many tickets but have issued a ton of warnings.

"Will we stop you? Most likely," Witthuhn said. "Will we give you a ticket? Maybe, maybe not. Our job is to educate the public and boaters. Many boaters still have no idea about the no wake zone."

Taney: When does it get to a point when you will issue tickets?

Witthuhn: If they (boaters) are operating in such a reckless manner with no regard to the law, they will be given a ticket.

Catching speeders is tough. First, these deputies are responsible for patrolling a massive amount of shoreline. They do get some assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, but it's still a lot of territory to cover.

"We patrol Irondequoit Bay, Braddocks and all of the shoreline in between plus the Genesee River," Witthuhn said.

Another challenge, the marine unit does not want to create more problems.

"All boaters are responsible for their wake as are we," Witthuhn said. 

"We have to be mindful of our wake. Is it worth it to chase after someone who is breaking the law? Because if we do, we are going to cause just as much shoreline damage as the other party is," Colburn said.

They're hoping more boaters get the message.

"Your boat, no matter how fast you go, gives a wake so you need to be careful where you are," Colburn said.

The marine unit is ready to go from warning mode to issuing more tickets.

"You should not be throwing a wake at this point," Witthuhn told News10NBC. "If we see that you are throwing a wake, you will be stopped."

Keep in mind, because of the emergency order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, anyone caught breaking the no wake zone could face a misdemeanor charge which comes with a hefty fine.

Boaters can also be forced to pay for any damage their wake may cause.

If you have a question you'd like Pat to answer, send him an email:


Pat Taney

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