How to Get the Most Out of the 2018 Boating Season

What’s in store for boaters this summer? Adventure, discovery, pride, and accomplishment—for those willing to leave the cottage behind.

Boating is likely the most difficult powersport to participate in. There are no roadmaps for lakes, and even with hydrographic maps, you have to be constantly connected to what’s happening on (and under) the water. The season is short, and weather has a huge impact on how enjoyable it is.

But it’s precisely for these reasons that it’s also the most rewarding.

To kick off the official start of boating season, we’ve crafted this list that will help you make the most of the next two months. We’ve also taken a look at what will impact conditions this summer and made some recommendations based on that.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

One of the most surprising things about boaters is that most of them never leave their home waterway. We buy amazing vehicles that are capable of traversing the world by water, and then we explore the lake at the cottage and rarely get out further than that (anglers—you’re exempted from this generalization).

Arriving at Lake Temiskaming for another adventure. Photo: Virgil Knapp

For this summer, we’re issuing a challenge to the cottage crew—get off your lake. Ontario was settled by water for a reason—you can get almost anywhere by using the 250,000 lakes, or 100,000 km (62,000 miles) of rivers and canals. And if you can’t, there’s always the trailer. If you think every lake is the same, you don’t know Ontario.

Choose Reasonable Destinations

Ontario's Lake of the Woods is perfect for boaters from Michigain, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Photo: Virgil Knapp

Getting out of your comfort zone is step one, but that doesn’t mean you should drive for a week just to find a great boating destination. We’ve made a handy table of boating destinations depending on where you’re coming from.

Toronto, GTA, and the Golden Horseshoe

Greater Detroit and Michigan

Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan Upper Peninsula

New York, Ohio, Vermont, Kingston, Ottawa, Peterborough

Make the Most of Every Weekend

PWC adventures in Ontario's Explorers' Edge region. Photo: Martin Lortz

Each of the destinations we’ve listed here is doable as a weekend trip, with fuel, launches, marinas, and every other conceivable marine amenity available both on the way there and at the actual destination. There’s really no excuse for missing a weekend on the water—take a sick day Friday and beat the rush, or book every Monday as a vacation throughout July and August. There’s no reason to let the boat languish at the cottage dock for another summer

Plan a Week-Long Trip at Least Once a Summer

Likely the most crucial to getting the most out of this boating season is to plan one large week-long trip. Destinations like Lake of the Woods, 1,000 Islands, Lake Temiskaming—they can all easily take a week to explore without even really scratching the surface. And the reward for this kind of time on the water is unlike any other type of vacation.

Heading out onto the beautiful waters of Kenora, Ontario. Photo: Virgil Knapp

Review the Forecast for Your Destinations Regularly

Once you’ve got a destination sorted out, you’ll need to keep the weather forecast in mind. The Canadian Weather Network says Ontario is in for a summer season of increased storms, but not increased precipitation. And that doesn’t mean storms all the time—Ontario is typically a fairly mild province, storm-wise, but it means it’s worth being prepared.

Buy Maps

The Canadian Hydrographic Society sells paper maps of every destination, but you can get all the latest maps from your GPS provider—just be sure to have one before you head out on a complex waterway like Lake of the Woods. It’s easy to get lost with so many channels and inlets. 

This summer brings normal water levels throughout the province, near normal temps and a slight increase in the number of storm events. Summer is made for boating—and so is Ontario. So pick a direction, any direction, away from the cottage dock, and discover something entirely new.

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure.

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