If you used the Joe's Bayou boat launch this past holiday weekend, you may have noticed a new no wake zone.
In December of 2017, the Destin City Council approved the adoption of an ordinance to establish an idle-speed/no-wake boating safety zone immediately next to the city-owned Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area Boat Ramp and Kayak Launch.
City officials said the bayou is often crowded with vessels during the warmer months and many of them are being driven too fast, which increases the likelihood of boating accidents.
In March, the city received a Florida Uniform Waterway Marker permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission which allowed them to mark the zone’s boundaries with buoys or pilings.
On Aug. 24, No Wake Zone signage was installed, designating all waters within 500 feet of the facility to be "Idle Speed – No Wake Zones."
"The City Council recognized an issue with boat traffic, specifically boat speed, near the Joe’s Bayou Boat Launch," said Doug Rainer, public information officer for the city of Destin. "The new No Wake Zone signs specifically address this issue and will help keep residents and visitors safe while using the boat ramp."
Boaters who operate their vessels at a higher speed and cause a wake in the area could receive a noncriminal infraction and a $50 fine.
The Joe's Bayou boat launch is a 1.5 acre high-impact facility on Beach Drive with five boat launch ramps. There is a $20 daily launch fee for non-residents. Residents that live within Destin city limits can get a free annual pass at City Hall or the Community Center by providing proof of residency, picture ID and boat and trailer registration. Non-residents can purchase an annual pass for $205.