Franklin Countys First News

Friends of Wilson Lake ask boaters to inspect their own vessels

This year, boaters on Wilson Lake will be asked to inspect their own boats.

WILTON - This Memorial Day weekend Courtesy Boat Inspectors on Wilson Lake will start the 18th year of inspecting boats. This year due to COVID–19 the program will have a new look. Student monitors will be helping boaters to inspect their own boats. The boater will be asked to select a brochure at the boat launch kiosk. The inspector will maintain a six-foot social distance as they walk the boater through this process.

The Courtesy Boat Inspection program of Friends of Wilson Lake has been inspecting boats entering and leaving Wilson Lake since 2003. The reason is to curtail the spread of invasive plants coming from other states and other lakes in Maine. Traces of these invasive plants “hitch-hike” on boats as the boats move about from lake to lake. To date, the program has inspected well over 11,000 boats and fortunately found no trace of invasive plants entering the lake.

With this year's process, it should take a boater no more than five minutes to inspect their boat. That has always been the goal – to make the inspection only a small and incidental process to launching one’s boat. This year there is a new priority of keeping monitors and boaters safe from the coronavirus, but the other priority of getting the boat into the water safely and promptly will not be forgotten.

Following guidelines, monitors must maintain a six foot “social distance” at all times and they are never to touch a boat or a boater. Three quality monitors will all be back from last year and are familiar with most of the boaters. Nearly 70 percent of all boaters launching at Wilson Lake list that same lake as the site of their last launch.

The boaters will be asked to select a brochure (like the one displayed above) from the kiosk that explains the inspection process. There is also a display of this process in the kiosk panel nearest the lake. The monitor will then talk the boater through the process of inspecting his vessel from bow to stern (front to back) proceeding down the starboard (right) side of the boat and then back to the bow up the port or left side of the boat. Incidentally the term “Starboard” comes from the Old English words, steor , meaning steer and bord, meaning side of boat, or “steering side of the boat”. Since most boats at the time had rather complicated steering apparatus, the docking was generally done on the off side from the steering side. Hence, the term port – or dock.

The program has had over 100 monitors inspecting over 11,000 boats over 5,000 paid hours since the inception of this program. It has also provided well over 2,000 volunteer hours from the Friends of Wilson Lake and spent nearly $65,000 in the process. About $30,000 of this came from State of Maine grants and another $13,000 from the sponsorship support of the local business community.

For more information on the Courtesy Boat Inspection program or on Friends of Wilson Lake, please contact Wynn Muller at: or cell phone: 860-604-0424.

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