Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Continued: Despite complaints, Lake Minnetonka's Cruiser's Cove still a warm-weather hot spot

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 17, 2013 - 10:30 PM

“It became unmanageable,” Jabbour said. “You couldn’t get a toothpick through the boats.”

Jabbour, a former Orono mayor, might as well be the unofficial mayor of Big Island. He works to preserve and clean the island, to undo shoreline erosion damage from the wake of large boats. From his marina across the bay, he said the noise isn’t a major problem, just “an annoyance” that he likens to Minneapolis’ Warehouse District erupting with crowds on weekend nights.

Loud and plowed

For some Big Island cabin residents, however, the club-like cove has worn their patience.

Uran and her husband, John, avoid going to their cabin on weekends because the bass thumping about 500 feet away rattles their windows and makes sitting in their back yard unbearable, she said. The Excelsior couple told the Orono City Council in 2008 that they were trying to sell the cabin but that the noisy cove scared off prospective buyers.

“It’s unbelievable,” John Uran said. “The noise, the people taking a leak over the side … every year it just gets worse. You wouldn’t believe what goes on.”

His daughter, Jody Laughlin, 54, of Excelsior, also has a cabin on the island and says that after officers respond to noise complaints, noise just ramps back up. The lines of buoys, she argues, form a “welcome mat” for rowdy partyers.

“Everyone knows that’s a party zone,” she said. “You come out here to put your feet up … it’s heaven. And then all of a sudden, bam, bam, bam. [The bass music and noise] doesn’t stop. … It wears on you.”

Accepted way of life

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said his department has increased enforcement and training over the years, patrolling the county’s waters aggressively with 35 volunteer deputies and 10 licensed personnel. The DNR also has two boats on the lake.

“It’s like policing a little city,” Stanek said. “There’s nonstop people — everyone wants to enjoy the water.”

The county started patrolling the lake in 1955 after 18 people died there, part of a grim trend of double-digit water-related deaths. Since then, yearly drownings have remained in the single digits and boating accidents have declined.

In 1988, 190 boating accidents were reported. By 2002, that was down to 39 and last year, it was eight. Over the past five years, accidents, BWIs and boating citations have all remained relatively stable, according to the county.

And while boats have gotten bigger, the number of boats has dropped. At the DNR’s last count in 2009, the average number of boats on Lake Minnetonka on weekends fell to fewer than 1,000, down from about 1,400 in 1986.

Noise remains an issue, but “it’s part of lake living,” said Dick Osgood, executive director of the Lake Minnetonka Association. “It’s improved over 10 years ago.”

On the other side of Big Island, Bonnie Menigo of Pine City is annoyed by the trash partyers leave — she’s spent years snorkeling the cove to collect garbage bags full of beer cans, shoes, even underwear — but she prefers that parties stay concentrated there instead of across the lake. If not for Cruiser’s Cove, the partyers would be on the island or elsewhere on the lake, she said.

“People have to have a place to party,” said Menigo, whose family has had a cabin on Big Island since 1900. And “it’s only at night it turns into a party place.”

Added Block, the DNR officer, “Everyone who visits the lake knows what’s happening out there.”

  • related content

  • A group of friends enjoyed the water on Friday. Cruiser’s Cove fills with boaters and partyers every weekend.

  • Leah Kinn, of Excelsior, took in the sights — and a beverage — in the cove. Lake Minnetonka is the state’s most-heavily used lake.

  • Boats frequently jam closely together in the cove — not unlike tailgate parties at football games. The weekend party scene still is strong, said DNR Lt. Adam Block, but it isn’t as bad as it has been in years past. Said Bob Beutler of Minnetonka Beach: “I think the reputation is worse than the reality.”

  • Hennepin County water patrol deputy Adam Hernke stopped boaters Roberts Krebs, center, of Maple Grove, and George Mackereth, of Minneapolis, to check for infractions.

  • Peter Kinn, left, of Excelsior, enjoyed Cruiser’s Cove with friends. “Lake Minnetonka is no doubt special,” he said. “It’s a big party scene.”

  • Lake Minnetonka BY THE NUMBERS

    Boating While Intoxicated

    2008 2010 2012 2013*

    76 53 89 29

    Boating accidents

    7 14 8 14

    Boating citations

    597 479 394 107

    *2013 data through June

    Source: Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 87 FINAL
Boston 100
Brooklyn 100 FINAL
New York 98
Chicago 91 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Dallas 135 FINAL
Oklahoma City 131
Sacramento 111 FINAL
Houston 115
Toronto 113 FINAL
Minnesota 99
Denver 84 FINAL
Utah 98
LA Clippers 126 FINAL
Portland 122
New Orleans 113 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Toronto 3 FINAL
Buffalo 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Anaheim 5
Colorado 1 FINAL
San Jose 5
Loyola-Chicago 63 FINAL
ULM 62
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question