May 11, 2021| Safety
By: Larry Orlans
Some of the most popular activities on Lake Hopatcong—water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and wakesurfing—are all considered towing sports and fall under the regulations for water skiing. In addition to all state and federal boating laws, there are specific regulations for towing sports on Lake Hopatcong. Below are some important things to remember when engaging in towing sports on our lake.
Specific Lake Hopatcong regulations concerning towing and other activities can be found on the NJ State Police Marine Services Bureau website under New Jersey Boating Regulations (page 47. Title 13. Chapter 82 [pdf-781kb]). All state and federal boating laws still apply. (page 35. NJ State Police Boating Safety Manual).
Lake Hopatcong, Sussex and Morris County, NJ ADC 13:82-3.11
(a) From May 15 through September 15 of each calendar year, no person shall waterski on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays between the hours of 11:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. in the following areas:
(b) No vessel shall pull more than two skiers at any one time on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays from May 15 through September 15 of any year except when participating in an exhibition or race sanctioned by the State Police or the Division of Parks and Forestry.
(c) The towing vessel shall not be loaded beyond the manufacturer’s recommended capacity. For purposes of this subsection, the skier, or skiers, shall be included when determining the number of passengers in the vessel.
(d) While towing a skier, the operator of the vessel shall maintain a distance from any shore, structure, buoy, person in the water, vessel or other object, of not less than the length of the tow line plus 100 feet.
(e) The ski boat operator shall, when a skier has fallen, or has otherwise become disconnected from the tow line, reduce speed and return to the skier in a safe and reasonable manner.
(f) The dropping of skis for the purpose of barefoot or slalom skiing is prohibited, unless the ski is immediately retrieved by a following vessel.
(g) No vessel shall be operated upon Lake Hopatcong between the hours of sunset and sunrise at a speed in excess of 10 miles per hour.
(h) No vessel shall be operated upon Lake Hopatcong on Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays between May 15 and September 15 at a speed in excess of 30 miles per hour.
(i) No vessel shall be operated at a speed in excess of five miles per hour within 100 feet of shore, any wharf, pier, bridge, dock structure, buoy or person in the water or designated bathing area which is marked by buoys.
(j) No vessel shall be operated at such a speed that shall cause 100 percent of the hull to come out of the water. Operation of the vessel in such a manner shall constitute, without further proof, careless operation. An exception to this requirement shall be allowed for operation during authorized marine events for which a permit has been issued by the State Police pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:82–1.20 or the Division of Parks and Forestry, or with a valid race test permit issued by the State Police pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:82–4.6.
(k) When the water level reaches the Extreme High Water Level (Elevation 924.20 feet) or when the United States Geologic Survey gauge #01455400 in Hopatcong State Park reads 9.5, a “Slow Speed-No Wake” condition shall exist.
This post is part of our 2021 Spring Safety Series. Larry Orlans is a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Safety Instructor and Auxiliary Operations Officer for Flotilla 15-10.