About those Buoys

Boats enter a channel on the Whitefish Chain. Channels on the chain are marked by buoys, which are managed by the Whitefish Chain Yacht Club. The club promotes boating safety on the chain. Photo by Kate Perkins

If you've been to the Whitefish Chain, you've probably seen the system of safety buoys around the lakes for boat navigation. Many people, though, never think about who's responsible for placing those buoys in the spring and removing them in the fall. On the Whitefish Chain, all that is managed by the Whitefish Chain Yacht Club, under the direction of the Crow Wing County Sheriff.

Contrary to the club's name, there may not be a single yacht on the Whitefish Chain. Rather the club, a non-profit organization, is focused on helping to provide a safe boating experience for everyone on the chain. Members of the Whitefish Chain Yacht Club also enjoy reciprocal privileges at more than 700 clubs that are members of the Yachting Club of America.

In addition to the important responsibility of managing the buoys, the Whitefish Chain Yacht Club runs programs for swimming lessons and boating safety lessons, including youth boating safety and their relatively new women at the helm class.

In Minnesota, children ages 12-17 are required to have a Minnesota Watercraft Operator's Permit, or a similar permit from their home state, in order to navigate a boat. The Whitefish Chain Yacht Club gives children in the Whitefish Chain Area the chance to get that certification. The yacht club sponsors the class, with help from C and C Boat Works in Crosslake. The class is taught by the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Water Patrol.

The club in past years has also started offering boating classes to women. The classes allow women to learn to run and dock a boat in an unintimidating environment. Since men often take the helm on the boat, this class gives women the ability to, at the very least, manage the boat in the case of an emergency.

And, this will be the yacht club's 50th year of providing swim lessons! Since 1967 the club has created an opportunity for people to learn to swim, and has taught 4,000 people. Three series of swim lessons are offered on various dates throughout July.

Find more information on classes offered, including how to join, on the "Programs" page of the club's website.

The Whitefish Chain Yacht Club also sponsors the Cardboard Boat Races and Whitefish Antique and Classic Boat Show, both held each summer. The club holds social events as well, but those are paid by the attendees, not with member dues.

Membership into the Whitefish Chain Yacht Club is $50 per family. Several contribution levels are also available: First Mate's Club ($100-$149), Captain's Wheel ($150-$249) and the Commodore's Club ($250 and up). Find information on how to become a member, as well as additional information about the club, on the Whitefish Chain Yacht Club website.



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