With more than 20 major reservoirs, Kansas
is a great place for recreational boating. Since state parks offer camping right next
to the water at many lakes, a camping/boating vacation is a great choice for many. The water
offers an endless playground, and boating is the key to many watersports and outdoors
adventures. Add peripheral gear to your craft, and there’s never a lack of something to
do on the water. A simple boat ride can be a great experience.
Exploring coves is a unique way to experience and photograph the landscape. Racing down
the lake in a spray of water is a good way to stay cool on a hot day. Anchor up in a
safe place, and the boat becomes a deck for swimming. Turn up some music, and you’ve
got your own mini-beach away from the crowd. Add an inflatable tube or skis, and it becomes
a water carnival. These challenging sports are exciting for all levels of experience,
since riders can learn acrobatic tricks while being pulled at substantial speed. And wipeouts,
while not exactly painless, are soft water landings far safer than sports crashes on
land. Of course, the key to safety is life jackets.
Kansas law requires all boaters age 12 and under to wear them at all times when boating.
Older than that, boaters must have jackets within reach. A boat should have at least
one life jacket per passenger. Life jackets should be considered mandatory for everyone
entering the water or engaged in watersports. Safe boating is alcohol-free. Though no regulations
prevent alcohol on a boat, it is illegal to operate a boat under the influence. Stressors
like wave action, glare, and vibration increase alcohol’s effect on a boat operator. In
fact, only 1/3 the alcohol necessary to impair function on land can cause impairment on water.
Boater education courses, available online through the KDWPT website, are mandatory for
boat operators age 12 through 20 without adult supervision. But they are advised for all
who operate watercraft on Kansas waters. Enjoy Kansas boating. Be safe, and have fun
on the water. I’m Mike Blair for Kansas Wildlife, Parks,