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TRUE BLUE boating

Having Fun!

Tube behind your boat 
Rent a pontoon… 
Launch a jet ski… 
Enjoy the blue waters of Torch Lake!

Photo: Scarab Jet Boat

Image: Postcard Barbara Lockrey Collection

Photo: Torch Conservation Center

Boating Safely!

Plan Ahead

Torch Lake is huge!
Look at a map & plan your route.
Out on the water is 15 °F colder than being on shore.

Prevent having an unhappy, cold crew:

  • Bring jackets, towels and blankets.

Photo: Torch Conservation Center

Pay Attention!

There are many boats with inexperienced captains.

Prevent boat accidents:

  • Watch out for other boats and watercraft.
  • Stay far away from skiers and tubers.

Watch the Sky

Storms move in quickly on Torch Lake.

Prevent accidents:

  • When you see dark clouds or lightning, go to a safe harbor:
    SOUTH: Torch River, Alden Harbor or Clam River
    NORTH: Torch Lake Village

Photo: Torch Conservation Center

Follow the Law

Torch Lake is patrolled by Antrim and Kalkaska County marine officers.

Be Prepared

Carry boat registration and boating certificates.

Prevent getting a ticket:

  • Registration- Must display current sticker on boat.
  • Boater Safety Card- Born after July 1, 1996.
    Must carry a card.
  • Boater Safety Card- Ages 14-15.
    Must carry a card AND be with an adult.

Click here for the online boating safety course for certification:

    Buckle Up…in a Life Jacket

    A life jacket can save your life!.

    Prevent drownings:

    • Children Under 6- Must wear life jacket when boat is moving.
      Arm bands/puffy arms are not safe or legal life jackets.
    • Each passenger must have a life jacket


      Rules on the Water

      Prevent boating accidents:

      • Don’t sit or stand on the bow unless it is designed with seats.
      • Drink responsibly. Stay below the blood alcohol limit .08.
        If ticketed with a DUI, it will go on your driving record.
      • Go slow in NO WAKE ZONES.
        In rivers, marinas and within 100 ft of shore.
      • Sailboats and non-motorized vessels have the right-of-way.
      • Boats & Personal Water Craft (PWC) must stay 100 ft from
           persons in the water
           other boats
           docks and
        unless going slow no-wake speed.
      • NO U turns in Clam & Torch Rivers.
        Go down the river until it widens, then turn around.
        Clam River flows INTO Torch Lake.
        Torch River flows OUT OF Torch Lake.

        Photo: Blue Water Farm

        For Skiing, Wake Boarding & Tubing-

        • Every person being towed must wear a life jacket.
        • Boats towing a person must have a designated observer in addition to the driver
        • When towing, stay 100 ft from shore, anchored vessels, docks, rafts and swimmers.
        • Do not tow before sunrise or after sunset.

        Photo: Julie Schmidt

        For Jet Skis or Personal Water Crafts (PWCs)-

        Need to operate:

        • Boater Safety Card if born after December 31, 1978.
        • Must be at least 14 years old with Boating Safety Card and if younger than 16 years must also be in the presence of a parent or guardian.
        • Every person riding a PWC must wear life jacket.

        When on the water:

        • Stay 100 ft from dock, raft, swimmers and shore unless going slow no wake speed.
        • Do not cross within 150 feet behind another boat moving faster than no wake speed.
        • Do not operate PWC before 8 AM or after sunset.

        Photo: Torch Conservation Center

        In case of an accident:
        Dial 911

        For Antrim or Kalkaska Sheriff Marine Patrol, Fire or Ambulance

        Protect Torch Lake

        Non-native species can damage Torch Lake.

        Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species:
        Click on Invasive Species for more info.

        • BEFORE launching, Clean, Drain & Dry your boat and trailer.
        • Place unused bait in the trash, NOT the lake.
        • Remove mud, plants & water that may harbor invasive species

        Protect our Loons

        Loons are threatened species and protected in Michigan.

        Prevent loon deaths:

        • Slow down and keep a distance of 50-100 feet
        • If you hear them call, you are too close. Back away.

        Photo: Torch Conservation Center

        Best Boat Launches on Torch Lake

        Public boat launches are maintained by local townships and the Department of Natural Resources.

        • Fees may apply.
        • Be courteous and patient.
        • Respect adjacent private property.

        North of Clam River

        • MDNR Boat Launch- Eastport
        • William Good Day Park- Torch Lake Township Park

        South of Clam River

        • MDNR Boat Launch- Torch River
        • Alden Harbor

        printer icon

        Free Printable

        Public Boat Launches Map (.pdf)

        Where to Go

        Swimming from Your Boat

        • Anchor at public access sites.
          Look for orange signs on the shore.
        • Anchor 100 ft from private docks & rafts.
        • Anchor in deeper water away from obstacles to protect your propellor.
        • Drift in deep water to avoid swimmer’s itch.
        • No mooring overnight.

        Take the Torch Lake Boating Trail

        printer icon

        Free Printable

        Public Access Map (.pdf)

        printer icon

        Free Printable

        Torch Lake Boating Trail Map (.pdf)

        You Care

        We love when you visit Torch Lake.
        Visit responsibly and sustainably.

        Care for the Lake You Love

        • Take your trash home with you, including pet waste.
        • Use public restrooms.
          Torch Lake is not a toilet.
        • Use marina pump- out facilities for toilet waste.
        • Clean your boat while in trailer, not in the lake.
          Use phosphate-free, biodegradable cleaning products.

        Respect Others

        • Sound travels farther over water- turn down volume.
        • Raft boats further offshore.
        • Natural shoreline is private property. Don’t trespass.

        Don't just wish that Torch Lake will stay blue.
        Choose a water-friendly lifestyle - make a difference!