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Wake and Wash: Definition and Best Safety Practices When Boating

August 10, 2021

In this article, we go over the definition of wake and wash when boating and the safety practices boat operators must follow to avoid damage or injuries caused by their wake and wash.

Wake and wash definition

The wake in wake and wash refers to waves caused by the boat displacing water by moving through it. Wash refers to the disrupted water caused by the propeller churning the water at the stern.

Wake and wash created by your boat can damage the shoreline and may put smaller boats in danger. As such, certain safety precautions must be followed.

What should boat operators do to avoid damage caused by wake and wash?

In several provinces, boaters are restricted to a 10 km/h speed limit within 30 metres of shoreline. Boat operators must drive with a reasonable speed at all times so that wave wake and wash will not negatively impact the following:

  • Other boats including smaller vessels and anchored or grounded vessels
  • Unpowered vessels like canoes, rafts and kayaks
  • Floats, docks and shorelines
  • Swimmers in the waterways, around designated swimming areas and near beaches
  • Other waterway users like water skiers and scuba divers

To reduce wake and wash, the best course of action is to adjust your speed whenever you are boating in any of these areas. Reducing your speed will prevent injuries, the erosion of shorelines, property damage and even boat collisions.

Maintain a safe boating speed to avoid wake and wash damage

Boaters are required to be mindful of their speed to avoid any damages or injuries caused by their wake and wash. Keep in mind that speed limits are not always visibly displayed and you will need to remain vigilant at all times.

Haven’t got your Canadian boating license yet? Now is always a good time to study and take the official online boating exam so you can start putting these safety precautions into practice while having fun on the water!