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Water Safety on the Minocqua Chain

The Memorial Weekend boating fun has been complete and we are heading into the busiest boating weekend of the season – 4th of July. The Minocqua Kawaguesaga Lakes Protection Association would like to thank everyone and encourage continued safe boating. 

As a Lake Association, we would also like to review our objectives for continued boater safety, through courteous and respectful operation, proper navigation, and by increasing the overall knowledge to maintain and increase boater operation.

BOATING / OPERATIONS and DNR REGULATIONS  – Anyone born on or after January 1, 1989 must complete a Boater Safety Course and have a “Boat Safety Certificate”. Must be at least 12 years of age to operate a PWC (Personal Watercraft / Jet Ski) or Boat (see online for boat exceptions in regulations).

BOATS – must travel SLOW NO WAKE – within 100 feet of any swimmer, shoreline, dock, raft, pier, or buoyed restricted area.

A PWC (Personal Watercraft / Jet Ski) must travel SLOW NO WAKE – within 100 feet from any vessel, dock, raft, or pier, or restricted area, and at least 200 feet of any shoreline.

A PWC (Personal Watercraft / Jet Ski) cannot be operated within 100 feet of a water skier / tuber or a vessel towing a water skier / tuber, etc.

Please see and review website ( for a complete list of rules / regulations.


  • Be at least 100 feet from another vessel before throttling up and going up on plane.
  • Keep a distance – (w/minimal wake) from anchored, slow moving, and NON powered (paddle boards, canoes, kayaks, sail boats).
  • Don’t pass close – parallel to pontoon boats / cross at 90 degrees if passing.
  • Wake / Ski boats – (Respectful Operation) Minimize repetitive passes and operate in large open, deep bodies of water.
  • Wake/Surf Boats ‐ always operate 200+ feet from shorelines, docks, and steer clear of parked boats / smaller watercraft.
  • Music ‐ Enjoy your music, but keep the decibel level 86 decibels or less.
Key Navigation buoys – 
SLOW NO WAKE – Operating a boat at the slowest speed necessary to maintain steerage CONTROL  – (Respectful  Operation) reduce or eliminate waves that appear as whitewater behind the boat Do not enter this area
SWIM AREA – Do not enter this area
HAZARD/DANGER  – Use caution in this area
DIVE FLAG  – Stay more than 100 feet from the divers‐down flag or buoy in these areas
  • Navigation Buoys – Minocqua, Kawaguesaga, Thoroughfare
    •  How many are installed each year on the chain of lakes?  70
    • How many of these are on Lakes Minocqua & Kawaguesaga?  44
    •  Who has been responsible for installing and removing these buoys for nearly 20 years?  Chief Backhaus – Woodruff Police – multi jurisdictional effort Minocqua Police Dpt & Woodruff Police Dpt
    • How long does the process of installing (removing) these buoys take? 16 hour x 2 workers
    • How much does a buoy, chain, & weight block weigh?  Approximately 100 lbs.
    •  When are the buoys installed each year? Spring – hopefully before Fishing opener, 1st week of May (weather permitting)
    •  When are the buoys removed each year?  Fall – hopefully before Beef-A-Rama – 3rd or 4th week of September (weather permitting)
    •  Who permits a buoy being placed on a Wisconsin Lake?  DNR
    • Who maintains the GPS Coordinates for buoys placed on Minocqua & Kawaguesaga Lakes?  Chief Backhaus – Woodruff Police
    • Who maintains and manages buoy locations throughout the summer?  Boat Patrol Officer – tries to keep tabs on them to make sure they stay in place and will be responsible for any replacement/repairs.  

    Important Information from Chief Backhaus

    Every year people take it upon themselves to re-adjust the buoys because they feel they were not placed correctly, if you ever see anyone messing with the buoys, please try to get a hull id# so the Police Dpt can issue them a citation.

    Also, please let the Police Dpt know if a buoy floats away, sometimes people will pull them up on shore or tie them to a dock without reporting this to the Police Dpt.  Without reporting, this makes it difficult finding them to get them re-installed.  Simply call Police Dpt’s non-emergency number at 715-356-1150 to report.

    Thanks to Chief Backhaus, Woodruff Police Dpt , Chief Jaeger, Minocqua Police Dpt, & Mark Pertile, Town of Minocqua for contributing information for this article


If you have any questions or wish to report a possible violation, call the Minocqua Police Department at 715-356‐3234. If possible, get hull number and take a picture or video.

More information is available on boater safety at all Town of Minocqua Boat landings via the MKPLA “Water Safety on the Minocqua Chain” brochure and the “Welcome to the Minocqua Chain” communication centers.

To join or donate to the “Minocqua Kawaguesaga Lakes Protection Association”, simply scan on the QR code with your Smart phone, scroll to the bottom, and follow the simple steps. You can join or donate online via your credit card or bank checking account. Membership is only $60 per season.


It’s as easy as 1 – 2 – 3.

Fill out your name and address, etc; – click the red SUBMIT button.

Next, click on the red – PAY ONLINE button.

Complete your credit card or e-check transaction form -click on GREEN PAYMENT button.


Thank you again for your boater safety on the Minocqua Chain and enjoy your summer!