By: Rachel Kanan, 2018 Watershed Stewardship Assistant
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? No one knows. However, if someone is playing “Shots” by LMFAO through their speedboat speakers near Kinsmen Beach on a busy Saturday, there will be a small child asking their mother why the singer shortens crocodile as “Ciroc”.
Sound travels as pressure waves, and is affected by the temperature of their medium. Large bodies of water, such as Lake Windermere, cool the air closest to the water surface and cause significant refraction, the bending of sound. This phenomenon causes loud noises to skim across the calm surface of the water and become amplified to sunbathers and beachgoers.
Loud boating affects more than just swimmers and shoreline property owners; it can also alarm birds and wildlife. An example of the distress caused to native waterfowl is the research conducted by Dr. Daniel Haag-Wackernagel at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Haag-Wackernagel, one of the world’s leading experts on feral pigeons, says that many of our feathered friends excrete especially foul-smelling, undigested feces when attacked. The loud music from a party boat can be equally as shocking as the appearance of a predator.
The safety issues associated with boating with loud music are much more serious than bird poop. Safe boating practices require that a vessel towing a water skier or tube has a designated spotter. Their role is to communicate with the driver, but this job becomes increasingly difficult if the bass drop coordinates with the wake boarder’s request for an emergency stop.
There are many steps you can take to respect other lake users and help improve the sound quality on Lake Windermere. The Kinsmen Beach area is a local hotspot for water recreation, and is particularly sensitive to noise pollution. Be respectful by being conscientious of your music volume, and observing the recommended no wake buoys that now float in Taynton Bay. Always remember to abide by Provincial legislation and keep your craft under the designated 10 km/hr while within 30 meters (100 feet) from shore, as large boat motors can be loud, disruptive and smelly.
While a friendly reminder that it is illegal in BC for both boat drivers and passengers to consume alcohol may fall on deaf ears, hopefully the hearing loss will not be due to excessive boating noise.
Please be mindful of others when out on the lake, and have a great summer!