Three common questions are raised when residents of and visitors to the lake see the Westlake Lake Patrol boat motor by: 1) Who is the Lake Patrol? 2) What does the Lake Patrol do? And, 3) Why do they get to use gasoline-powered motors but not me?
The lake Patrol persons are employees of the Westlake Lake Management Association (WLMA). The Patrol’s primary function is to help keep Westlake Lake a safe and pleasant place for residents and their guests by ensuring that all boating and fishing rules are respected, and to provide towing service when boats become disabled or run out of power. On any given day the Lake Patrol is called upon to provide multiple services: Birds trapped in discarded fishing line have been caught and set free; Non-resident trespassers who find the pristine condition of your lake too inviting for fishing are asked to leave – often multiple times; Lake residents often wave over the Patrolpersons to enquire about lake rules, lake conditions or events involving the lake.
The Patrol checks for fishing badges, and while it has been mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter it bears repeating: Everyone fishing Westlake Lake must possess and wear a current WLMA Fishing Badge. Pleasure boating is the most popular activity on the lake, and the Patrol observes all watercraft to ensure their safe operation. If a boat is overloaded with passengers, or the passengers are unevenly distributed on the deck causing a lopsided appearance, the Patrol person will stop the boat and point out the unsafe conditions and request they be corrected. Captains piloting their vessels unsafely will likewise be stopped and asked to adhere to WLMA’s boating Rules including safety items in the Boating Safety Handbook (See copy of handbook under Rules) Many a special Birthday/Anniversary/Holiday boat cruise is unfortunately cut short by electrical/mechanical problems. The Patrol is just a phone call away and can tow you safely back to your dock.
The Patrolpersons all carry cell phones to which the WLMA office phone number (818/889-5377) is forwarded, so be sure you have that number with you whenever you untie from your dock. If the situation is an emergency, call 911 first, as patrol is not medically trained. As you are responsible for your boat, if you allow eligible friends or relatives to use it, be sure they can operate it and know the number as well. Sometimes the winds really blow on the lake, and a boat that might otherwise be fine will really strain trying to make it back home against a strong breeze. When you need a boat tow under these conditions the question of why the Patrol gets the gasoline motors will be answered. On windy days docked boats can become untethered and the Patrol will often catch them and retie the dock lines before the boat can make an escape. The almost ten miles of shoreline are observed by the Patrol for everything from growth of invasive water plants, to trespassing fishermen/miscreants, to incursions by unregistered watercraft, such as kayaks, in violation of the Quagga Mussel Quarantine. The Patrol also keeps an eye out for the well being of the wildlife that calls the lake ‘home.’
As the sun eases below the horizon and the sky over the lake darkens, the Patrol is out on the lake reminding boaters to turn on the boat’s running/navigation lights. The lights are a simple, effective safety feature. The Patrol will also be out reminding anglers that the fishing curfew is one hour after sunset, and reminding boaters that sound really carries across water and requesting that music and voices be kept at lower volume levels.
The Patrolpersons will issue written Reminders/Warnings when lake rules are being broken or ignored. Habitual breaking or ignorance of lake rules will often result in multiple written warnings, which results in a hearing before the Lake Executive Committee. Written copies of the lake rules, including those that apply to boating and fishing, can be obtained by contacting the WLMA office, 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday.
The Lake Patrol is just one of the many means your Lake Board and Executive Committee employs to ensure a safe and smooth-running community. Residents should not hesitate to call the Patrol if it can be of service or if a situation needs to be brought to the Patrol’s attention. The Lake Patrol appreciates the opportunity to serve the residents of Westlake Lake, and even more the opportunity to share in the enjoyment of this beautiful community.