View Of The Lake

This article submitted by Linda Lorentzen on 08/05/97.

Courtesy of our very generous neighbors, my son had his first experience with personal watercraft. Since that weekend all he has talked about includes the words ďwave runnersĒ, ďWetJetsĒ, ďDNR permitsĒ, and ďWhy NOT?Ē I have always prided myself on the fact that I would NEVER consider owning a personal watercraft.

In my mind two issues have been synonymous with personal watercraft: noise and irresponsible behavior. All anyone needs is to have three or four personal watercraft zipping back and forth in front of their dock for twenty minutes before the noise grates on them. Watching the drivers race with other watercraft and often coming dangerously close to another boat or water skier, is enough to make oneís stomach turn.

As Iíve learned with other matters in my life: ďNever, say never!Ē Iíll have to admit my sonís enthusiasm has worn down my defenses.

On the way home from work one day I spotted two WetJets on a trailer with a ďFor SaleĒ sign attached. It was as if another person took over my body; I found myself picking up the cellular phone and calling my husband to give him the location. Before I knew what was happening, we were discussing the price we should offer. By next weekend I may be eating another set of ďNever, say neverĒ statements if we end up buying the WetJets.

Now, I have to rethink my two issues with personal watercraft.

The issue of noise disturbing the inhabitants of the lake has been present for more than one hundred years. Early steamboats on Lake Koronis provided noisy but intriguing sight-seeing rides. Through the years as the outboard motors have been improved, they too have become less noisy. Some of the reduced noise is me just getting used to hearing boats on the lake. On any nice summer Saturday afternoon, a multitude of boats parade in front of the cabin and I rarely notice. A comparable analogy is the airport traffic around south Minneapolis. The residents become so accustomed to the jet airplanes overhead that it becomes more background noise. If Iím at a friendís house I hear each and every plane that flies over the house; my friend rarely pauses in conversation. When put in that perspective, personal watercraft donít seem all that bad.

The second issue with which I must come to terms with is the sometimes dangerous manner in which personal watercraft are operated. Iíve been pulling water skiers and have had people driving personal watercraft follow closely, trying to jump back and forth across the wake. With concern for the safety of the skier I canít imagine what these people are thinking. But in pausing to reflect I can recall incidences where people in speedboats have come dangerously close to one of our skiers. So, maybe I have been unfair in grouping all operators of personal watercraft in the dangerous category. This past weekend I watched from the dock, saw five different operators of personal watercraft, and noted they were all driving safely.

Whether or not we end up owners of personal watercraft, I think I can look at the whole situation with less prejudice. In spite of some noise and a few unsafe drivers, on the whole, personal watercraft look like a lot of fun. And as my son points out, they would make for a great view from the lake.

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