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Meet Don Motteler, Marine Patrol Captain

We met and interviewed Don at the Marine Patrol base on a beautiful sunny day. He's a friendly guy, smiles a lot and genuinely loves the lake and this community. Here's what he had to say:

"I've lived in Canyon Lake for 20 years and been Marine Patrol Captain for about a year now.

 

"The first job of the Marine Patrol is to ensure that boaters have a safe time on the water. When you mix great weather with the weekend and a little too much pre-partying dockside, you have a bad combination on the water. Even without those conditions, accidents can happen, but following some common sense helps everyone enjoy their time on the lake and get back home safely."

 

"As a Canyon Lake resident I was a little bothered by the reputation of the Marine Patrol before I accepted this position. There were lots of citations being handed out and our patrols were considered to be at worst a nuisance and at best law enforcement. We have changed that."

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"We can still issue citations, but they are generally for an expired or absent registration. The most common operator citation that we issue is for excessive wake. Many of today's deep hull boats are so heavy that they create a strong wake even at 5 mph and especially if they have lots of passengers in the stern. This is true of pontoons, too. We ask all Canyon Lake boaters to respect the no-wake rule, even if they have to throttle down to less than 5 mph. This isn't just about safety, although safety does play a part in it. The main concern with wakes is the damage they do to docks and seawalls. Repairing undercut seawalls can get pretty expensive for homeowners."

"Common courtesy on the water makes everyone's life a lot easier. Being pleasant and patient and considerate of others goes a long way."

"If someone is causing a potentially dangerous situation or there is a boat in distress you can help. Just call us. Chances are good that we can send a patrol boat right out."

Here's a brief Q&A with Captain Motteler:

Q – There are three lines of buoys on the East Bay side of the main causeway tunnel. Where should boats be when going from the east channel toward the tunnel? Where should they be when coming from the tunnel into the East Bay side?
A – The three lines create traffic lanes for boat traffic. These are there to keep boaters from rafting in main events, like July 4th fireworks, and plugging up traffic to and from the main lake. You can use any of the lanes for coming to or from, as long as there are no other boats in the lanes. If there are other boats stay in your right lane or even travel on the right outside of the lanes.

Q – Which direction should I travel when boating on the lake?
A – All boats shall follow a counter-clockwise pattern, at all times keeping shoreline on your right and the mid-channel buoys on your left.

Q – When you enter main lake from the causeway tunnel there is a channel buoy slightly to the right ahead of you. Which side of the buoy should you pass on?
A – Even though it's slightly to the right, that buoy is a mid-channel marker, there to help boat traffic come and go. Always keep mid-channel markers on your left.

Q – Where can non-motorized watercraft travel?
A – Anywhere in 5 mph zones. That means all of East Bay and the 5 mph zones near shoreline in the Main Lake. Non-motorized watercraft should always be aware of other craft on the water. Use common sense. Don't assume everyone can see you.

Q – When do I need to have a signal flag showing?
A – Anytime you are stopped with people from your boat in the water. Example, your skier falls and you circle and stop to help them get out of the water or get going again. You must have a flag up to tell other boats to exercise caution because someone is in the water. People are very hard to see when they're in the water. Your flag is their protection.

Q – Is it ever acceptable to pass another boat on the right?
A – Yes, but you generally shouldn't do it unless the other boat is hugging the center buoys and going slow. Rule of thumb - overtake slower boats on their left side, just as you would passing a car on the road. That helps everyone. And if the other boat is acting as though they might cut in front of you, just give your horn a quick tap so they know you're coming up on them.

Q – What's the general rule that you would like all Canyon Lake boaters to keep in mind.
A – Use common sense. Know the rules and then follow them so everyone has fun and gets back to dock safely. Be aware of other boaters and others on the lake. You might be technically in the right, but accidents can happen to you when someone else isn't paying attention. Courtesy, common sense, and consideration of others – three good "C's" to remember.

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