Boating on Osoyoos Lake
Increased population and tourism in the Osoyoos area has resulted in an increase in the use of boats, sea-doos etc on the lake. Sadly, many of these vessels can cause serious erosion, pollution, noise and safety problems:
- Oil and gasoline leaks and spillages. One drop of oil can contaminate several thousand litres of water, making it unfit for aquatic wildlife.
- Emissions from the engine settle in the water and pollute it. (not to mention the smell of fumes!)
- Waves from motorboats erode the lakeshore and stir up sediment in the lake.
- Noise from motorboats frighten wildlife away and destroy the lake’s natural peace and serenity.
- Excessive speeds are a hazard to people swimming in the water. Many motorboats travel too close to the lakeshore at high speed. The law is: speed must be under 10 km/h when closer than 30metres from shore.
- Boats can spread milfoil and other aquatic weeds.
We strongly encourage the use of non-motorised boats. Canoes, rowboats, and sailboats are quiet and non-polluting.
If you must use a motorboat, we suggest a four-stroke engine as these are less polluting.
Please remember that even tiny amounts of pollution of any kind can upset the fragile balance of life in the lake.
Boating and sea-doo regulations have changed recently. The rules apply to both privately owned and rented craft.
If you were born after 1983, you require a boating licence. By 2009, everyone wanting to use a boat will require a licence.
Boating licences ($35.00) can be obtained locally at Starlite Marina (behind Holiday Inn) on Motel Row. You will be given a manual to study regarding basic safety and the rules of the lake, and then you can come back and take a written test. You will then be given a temporary licence to use immediately, and you’ll receive your official Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card in the mail within six weeks.
Crossing the border in a boat
You are strongly advised not to cross the border, even if you don’t intend to go ashore.
Rental boats are not permitted to cross the border.
If you do cross (whether or not you intend to land), everyone on the boat will need to carry an I-68 permit obtained in advance from Customs, plus all the documentation you’d normally need if you were crossing in a vehicle.
Going into the U.S ….you have to get out of your boat at Oroville State Park and phone to US Customs. A Customs Officer will come down to your boat and inspect it along with all your documents before allowing you to proceed.
Coming into Canada …… You must phone and wait for Canadian Customs at the Starlite Marina dock near the bridge in Osoyoos when you return. The same Customs procedure applies.
This natural sandspit stretches right across Osoyoos Lake from its western side. You cannot see all of it because it is partly underwater. Where the land tapers to a point and the trees end, please SLOW DOWN and pass carefully between the two yellow buoys. These mark a deeper channel that is specially dug for boats to safely travel through. On each side of these buoys the water is often less than knee deep during the summer. Many propellers are damaged here every year. The sudden stop could also throw passengers through the windshield.
Swimmers should beware of this deep channel. Many people mistakenly believe they can wade right across the lake from Haynes Point, and several drownings have occurred here in past years.
Passing under Osoyoos Bridge in a boat
The red triangle, set on a pole in the water on the south side of the bridge, is a navigation aid called a daybeacon which indicates a shallow area. When proceeding upstream (ie: heading north on Osoyoos Lake), the triangle must be kept on the vessel's starboard (right) side. Please slow down when passing under the bridge, and give way to other boats.
Copies of the ‘Safe Boating Guide’ can be obtained from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and from local marinas.