Muskego — It was after dark on a quiet summer evening, the heat of the day had mellowed and Lisa Niles, her family and a few friends were sailing along on Little Muskego Lake.
Suddenly, the back of the Niles' pontoon boat heaved up.
Her startled passengers wondered what happened, but Niles knew. The boat's propeller had dug into the lake bottom and probably hit a rock in the shallows around Grass Island. The marker buoy could not be seen in the dark, and the boat had strayed too close to the island.
With a badly bent propeller, the boat limped back home, violently shaking all the way.
"It cost me $300 for a prop," Niles said.
And she isn't the only boater whose propeller has slammed into rocks or the bottom around the island at night or even run right into a marker buoy.
Propellers hitting the lake bottom is bad not only for the boater but potentially for others, Niles said. A propeller can break off, leaving jagged metal where people swim.
"People can jump off a boat right onto it," Niles said.
Because of this, the Little Muskego Lake Association donated money for three of the buoys to be lighted with solar-powered blinking lights. Earlier this year, they were installed to kudos from boaters.
"Quite a few people said it was a nice addition to the lake," said Niles, who is the Lake Association vice president. Some even asked if lights could be installed on more buoys, she added.
As an added verification of the aid the lighted buoys are to boaters, the family living on an island next to Grass Island reported they haven't heard any boaters hitting the buoys this summer, she said.
And the lights aren't overbearing, blinding people along the shore with light, she said. The Lake Association has received no complaints about the lights.
— Jane Ford-Stewart
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