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Mossel Bay
28th May 2023
Community & LivingNature & NurtureTourism & Travel


As the summer holiday season approaches boat traffic on the Great Brak River will increase. At this time of year there is often confusion regarding the specific rules pertaining to what boating activities are allowed, as well as an array of opinions on whether or not boating on the river is good or bad.

The Great Brak River is divided into zones and these demarcated areas define the type of activities that are allowed. We have Wake Zones and No Wake Zones. A wake is defined as a trail of disturbed water left behind any vessel. Our Wake Zone is laid out between the Searle’s bridge and highway bridges. Here you are allowed to open your throttle a bit and even water skiing is permitted. One should, however, be aware of other river users and may not act in a way where you are a public nuisance. Even within the determined Wake Zone water levels can become extremely shallow so one needs to be aware of one’s draft at all times. Upstream of the Searle’s bridge and downstream of the highway bridges, including the estuary, are No Wake Zones. A No Wake Zone is exactly what it says on the box: one can’t travel at a speed that makes an excessive wake.  No Wake Zones are put in place to secure people’s safety and to ensure delicate ecosystems like estuaries aren’t disturbed.

If your boat is creating a disturbance of water in a No Wake Zone you are simply going too fast. The size of engine or boat is not regulated – it’s the speed at which one travels and the resulting wake that is of importance. There are, however, rules pertaining to water jet motors. Water jet motors, including Jet Ski’s are not permitted anywhere on our river.

Whilst there is argument that excessive speed, even within the wake zone, exasperates bank erosion one can’t deny the importance of having people physically on our river. Whether on a motor boat, row boat, canoe or SUP, the more people actively engaging with our river in a positive manner the better, as this ideally will lead to a culture where we all start taking responsibility for what we leave in our wake.

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