Things That Float: Rafts, Buoys, and Other Markers

Okauchee Lake is home to about 1,000 riparian owners, and enjoyed by lakeshore owners, their friends, and hundreds of guests each week who launch their boats at various launch sites to enjoy the lake. Understandably, this creates questions about rules and regulations, as well as a need for good old-fashioned courtesy. One question heard often is where people can place their floating docks and mooring buoys?
Mooring buoys may be placed within 150 feet of shore without a state permit, as long as they do not affect public rights (fish and wildlife habitat, navigation, etc.) or other riparian owners. Having a buoy further than 150 feet from shore will force the owner to apply for a permit.
Only riparian owners may place swim rafts or similar structures in the water and again, the rafts must not interfere with the rights of other property owners or with the rights of the public to use navigable waters. Any swim raft or water trampoline must be placed within 200 feet of shore, and all swimming rafts should be well marked in both day and night to warn boaters of possible hazards. The rafts should be no more than 38 inches high, and no more than 200 square feet in surface area. Water trampolines, generally round, are limited to a 15 foot diameter.
Generally, while operating a motor boat on any lake, Slow-No-Wake speed is required within 100 feet of a raft, pier or buoy restricted area and lakeshore. This rule is extended to 200 feet from the lakeshore for a personal watercraft.
Riparian owners should also be aware that they may not place such Slow-No-Wake buoys without first having received an approval from the municipality and the DNR. The DNR website has information on applying to place such markers.
The Okauchee Lake Management District is not a law enforcement agency, but urges all of our riparian owners and guests to follow the lake regulations and practice common courtesy while using our wonderful lake. This applies to placement of your piers, buoys and rafts, and operation of your boat or other watercraft. Be aware of the noise levels of the boats, whether from the engines or sounds systems, and how we greet and treat one another on the lakes. Let’s make this a safe summer, full of fun, family and friendship!