Unique danger on lake

There are some uniquely dangerous conditions on Okanagan Lake this long weekend, and several organizations were out Friday urging boaters to be cautious.

The annual kickoff to safe boating week, hosted by the Okanagan chapter of the Canadian Power Squadron, took place on the Kelowna Yacht Club's docks Friday.

“We have very high water levels, a lot of debris out there, so you can get into a lot of extra trouble,” said Sally Howard, general manager of the yacht club.

City manager Ron Matiussi urged boaters to keep it slow when within 30 metres of shore, as boat wake can cause significant damage when water levels are so high.

Todd Johnston, acting captain with Kelowna Fire Department, said he's been out on many marine rescue calls.

“Often, what happens is it's just people that are just not prepared,” he said. “This being a tourist area, a lot of people are drawn to the lake ... local knowledge is important, things can blow up quickly.”

In addition to the unique concerns due to the high water levels and debris in the lake, organizers of the event stressed the importance of having personal flotation devices, a heaving line, flares and a fire extinguisher on board. Those lacking the required safety gear can face a fine. 

“We just want every boater out there to be safe,” said the Power Squadron's Jona Benesha.

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