I was at a lake cabin in Northwest Wisconsin last weekend. The sun was out. The birds were singing. The fish were jumping. You get the picture. All was right with the world until… the dreaded jet ski appeared.
You might guess that I prefer the sound of nature to the irritating whine of a motorized shoreline wrecking, lake destroying piece of “recreational” equipment a.k.a. personal watercraft. Well, you are soooo right!
I am all for a good time on the water and I have been on a jet ski once or twice and found it to be sort of fun. But the thrill was gone in a few minutes.
To be honest, there is a place for jet skis: in the ocean rescuing surfers, towing boats to safety or scouting the water for sharks near beaches. They just don't make sense for Minnesota or Wisconsin’s beautiful fresh water lakes -- no sharks, no surfers, no need.
In addition to the noise pollution and erosion damage to shoreline, jet skis hurt our lakes because they can operate in shallow, near-shore aquatic habitat, which is inaccessible to most conventional motorboats. There have also been studies that have concluded that jet skis have more serious negative impacts on birds, including interruption of normal feeding activity and repeated displacement from nesting areas, than conventional motorboats, cars, all-terrain vehicles and pedestrians.(Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission).Not to mention the damage that they do to any hearing being within earshot.
So, how can you have non-motorized water fun in a state with more shoreline than any other state in the 48 contiguous? Here are some non-motorized ideas to test your balance, skill and endurance, which is WAY more macho (or mari-macha - girls) than proving you can hold a jet ski between your knees:
Stand UpPaddle Surfing (SUP) was developed in Hawaii as a way for surfer dudes to keep on eye on each other in the big waves. You stand up on the surfboard and use a long paddle to make your way over waves and out to calmer waters. Then you keep your balance (easier than it sounds) and paddle like heck to burn up 700-1000 calories per hour. It looks cool too and has just started to come to Minnesota lakes.
Kayaking in downtown Minneapolis. Above the Falls Sports is a new adventure company in the North Loop of downtown Minneapolis. They offer several guided kayak tours on the Mississippi including a dinner excursion with views of the downtown skyline at night. Besides the tours, they sell, rent, and instruct kayaks, canoes and rowing boats for a package price or hourly rate with a mission to promote man powered boating above St. Anthony Falls.
The Center of the local Wind Surfing scene is on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. You can rent a board and equipment at a nearby store, Scuba Center . If wind surfing doesn’t seem exciting enough, rent some kiteboarding equipment and catch some air. It is a surfboard harnessed to a large kite that is controlled by the rider with handheld strings. What could be more fun than that?!?! Jet ski schmet ski...
Sailing and canoeing are still popular and a bit more sedate activities that will still get you on the water. In the metro area, Lake Minnetonka is a great place to rent, buy, try or take lessons in either of these non-motor water craft.
Summer is short in this part of the world, make it count by impressing your family and friends with your choice of human and wind powered water fun -- rather than annoying the heck out of them with gassy, smelly motors.