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Top 5s & 10s From California Boating

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1. Lake Havasu
Giant Lake Havasu stands out like a lone sapphire in a pile of coal. Only the Colorado River breaks up a measureless expanse of desert, and when the Parker Dam was set across the river, Havasu was born. It is 45 miles long and covers 19,300 acres at the low elevation of 482 feet. This is one of the most popular boating destinations in the southwestern United States, and its size, weather, warm water, and proximity to Las Vegas make it one of the top vacation and waterskiing hot spots in the West. Most boaters do their own thing, heading off on this great stretch of water in search of wild fun and frolic. And most find it. Over the course of a year, enough suntan oil is used at Lake Havasu to flood the California Aqueduct. See chapter I9, page 473.

2. San Joaquin Delta
Yeah, it gets insane here, and that's exactly why so many people like the San Joaquin Delta. There are boats, boats, boats everywhere, not to mention boat owners who are on weekend vacations trying to completely escape the reality of their Monday-to-Friday lives. And the waterskiing? You've never seen so many boats ripping up and down, with happy (and somewhat insane) folks aboard and bright white wakes trailing behind. By early Saturday afternoon on the typical hot summer weekend, so much beer has been consumed that the scene deteriorates from crazed to maniacal. See chapter E2, page 298.

3. Colorado River
Hot weather and cool, calm water make this one of the water-ski capitals of America. Bring your suntan lotion and a beach towel. There are plenty of hot bodies and hot boats, and waterskiing is the dominant activity in the summer. The roar of the big V8s in the jet boats can be unbelievable, along with the bright wakes spewing from boats and skiers alike. It gets extremely crowded in the summer with happy boaters, skiers, swimmers, and general tourist traffic. Then there are the speedboat racers who show up every year for various competitions. See chapter H9, page 441.

4. Shasta Lake
Shasta has four lake arms...the Sacramento Arm, McCloud Arm, Pit Arm, and Squaw Creek Arm...and each arm is like a separate lake. That's in addition to the main lake near the dam. Add to that the thousands of little coves and secret inlets, and you1ve got a body of water that's so big no boater can ever fully explore it. In other words, this is one place that has plenty of room for everybody. With all the houseboaters and water-skiers, the scene resembles a giant party. Everybody's happy, and there's lots of sun, skin, oil, and liquid refreshments. See chapter B2, page 107.

5. San Vicente Lake
San Vicente is located in the arid San Diego foothills at an elevation of 659 feet, and when it's full it covers 1,070 acres and offers 14 miles of shoreline. An island completes the picture. To prevent conflicts, waterskiing is prohibited on fishing day (Friday), and fishing is prohibited on waterskiing days (Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday). Many people think this is an ideal setup. See chapter J6, page 486.

6. Lake Nacimiento
This big lake is set in the coastal foothill country of southern Monterey County. When full of water, it covers more than 5,000 acres with 165 miles of shoreline, plus there are a remarkable number of lake arms and coves. That enormous surface area and many private coves...provides the ideal conditions for high-speed boating, waterskiing, and Jet Skiing, as well as for low-speed boating, canoeing, and fishing. In the main lake, there is even a slalom course for expert water-skiers. See chapter G2, page 402.

7. Lake Perris
In the summer and fall, the weather out here can make you feel like you're standing in a fire pit. That's why waterskiing and swimming are such big hits at Lake Perris. The lake is set in the Moreno Valley at an elevation of 1,500 feet, just southwest of The Badlands foothills. There are large ski beaches on the northeast and southeast shores, and this can be a great place to go waterskiing and Jet Skiing. See chapter I6, page 465.

8. Lake Piru
Things can get crazy at Piru. Fortunately, it's usually a happy crazy, not an insane crazy. You see, this lake is pretty close to the Los Angeles Basin and it attracts quite a few people who come for the boating, waterskiing, fishing, sunbathing, and swimming. Temperatures are warm, and the water often seems to feel just right. And get this: No areas are off-limits to water-skiers. See chapter H4, page 437.

9. Lake Elsinore
Whoosh! Whoosh! What's faster than a speeding bullet? Whoosh! Whoosh! If you're at Lake Elsinore, then the answer is a water-skier being towed by a jet boat. The place is loaded with them. And why not? With day after day of barn-burner weather throughout summer and into fall, and few anglers to get in the way, it's the perfect place. Lake Elsinore is set at 1,239 feet in an area that gets hot enough to make the water here more valuable to water-skiers than gold. The lake is big enough to accommodate all kinds of boaters, too. It's a winner, and lots of people take advantage of it. See chapter I6, page 466.

10. Pyramid Lake
Although Pyramid Lake (elevation 2,600 feet) is surrounded by Angeles National Forest, Interstate 5 is routed right past several lake arms. This makes it one of the more easily accessed bodies of water in California. Because it's a showpiece, the water masters tend to keep it fuller than other lakes on line with the California Aqueduct. That makes it a favorite for powerboaters, especially water-skiers (a 35 mph speed limit is enforced). See chapter H4, page 434.

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