Calm, cool and collected. Three words to describe the operation at the East Boat Launch public ramp Friday, May 1, in Big Bear Lake. Boaters remained calm on the cool morning as they waited for the gates to open for a soft opening day to the 2020 boating season.
According to Mike Stephenson, general manager of the Big Bear Municipal Water District, the first boater showed up at 4:30 a.m. Friday. By 6:45 a.m. there were 13 vehicles in line waiting for the 7 a.m. start time. The gates opened early to allow parking after a Caltrans official stopped by to warn them about blocking the road.
Two boats were turned away before the gates opened because they weren’t banded boats, Stephenson said. About half of the first wave of boaters carried kayaks. After decontaminating the paddle boats, they parked their cars outside of the parking lot, which is limited to 25 vehicles under the soft opening 25 percent capacity rule.
Stephenson said the MWD has fielded thousands of phone calls over the past few days about the status of the lake.
A trip around the lake revealed few boaters on the water. Marinas are allowing only slipholders or dock members with banded boats to launch as part of Phase 1. Loren Hafen, owner of Holloway’s Marina & RV Park said all of the marina owners support the MWD’s decision to limit boaters in this first phase.
“We are putting safety ahead of profits,” Hafen said, adding that in addition to access for slipholders, Holloway’s will have its construction and maintenance operations open. “We’re taking it slow, supporting the MWD. The marinas are working together. We want to do this right.”