Shoal Marker Buoys

Lake Bernard has it’s share of rocks, boulders, shoals and bedrock that represent significant hazards to most kinds of watercraft. Interestingly, most of these hazards are not visible but are submerged by the normally high water level of our lake in the early spring. Boating at that time of the year can be particularly dangerous for operators who are not familiar with the lake. A number of years ago Transport Canada officials advised members of the Executive of the lake Association that it is the responsibility of anyone operating any watercraft in Canada to inform themselves about potential hazards on our waterways. This would include tides and currents as well as submerged rocks and shoals.

At Lake Bernard the underwater hazards are distributed throughout the lake. Those rocks located on the main boating channels are marked by white coloured buoys that carry red and yellow reflective tape. These buoys are NOT intended to mark safe boating channels. Their purpose is solely to remind boaters of nearby rocks and to guide boaters at night. The buoys are made of white PVC plastic pipe and are anchored with concrete blocks. Each buoy has a number to indicate where it is located in the lake. In the fall around the Thanksgiving weekend, a team of four or five volunteers removes the buoys from the water. However, not all buoys are removed on the same day leaving some rocks marked and others not. Boaters on the water at that time should also take note that there would likely be few boats, if any, to come to their rescue and the lake water temperatures would be considerably colder than in the summer months.

Following spring breakup, the buoys are checked for necessary maintenance then placed back in the lake in mid-May. Where possible, the buoys are set out to encircle all of the rocks at a particular site (such as north of Round Island and, south of Jellycake Island). At other locations the buoys are placed in a linear fashion or a single buoy for a single rock or boulder. All boaters, experienced or novice are encouraged to check out the extent and precise location of rocks. Approaching a shoal slowly by canoe, paddle board etc. is best done in the morning on clear calm days when visibility down in the water is highest.

Each buoy has a specific length of anchor rope to keep it from drifting too far from its desired location. On occasion, heavy rains may increase the lake level just enough that the anchor will be lifted by the buoy. When this happens, the buoy is free to drift wherever the wind may blow it. Anyone who notices that a buoy is missing or is not in its proper location is asked to contact

The following descriptions refer to the association’s 2006 map of Lake Bernard (3.7MB pdf), which is available to members. Underwater hazards can be found in four areas: west end, north central, Mitchell’s Bay and east end. Rocks and shoals are identified on the map by plus signs (+). The following explains the placement of the buoys:

West End

  • Two buoys mark a shoal in front of cottages on ch. Higgins (G4). Boaters can safely pass between the shore and the shoal. A single buoy marks several boulders lying off the point near the cottage on ch. Machado (G1).

North Central

  • In the bay near the outlet, there are two buoys marking two large boulders on the west side of this bay. Passage between the shore and the two boulders is not recommended.
  • Closer to the outlet, there are rocks emerging above the water; these are surrounded by submerged rocks. Four buoys have been placed to mark the extent of these rocks. Boaters can pass on all sides of this hazard.
  • On the north side of Dome Island, there are rocks that are usually above the surface of the water. One buoy marks the location of several outlying boulders. There is also one rigid black and yellow reflective marker standing approximately 1.5 meters above the water indicating the southerly limit of the shoal. Boaters can pass between Dome Island and the marker. Rigid markers indicate hazards immediately below and nearby.
  • On the north side of the lake in front of cottages on ch. Maisie (H1B) lies “Gull Rock” which is normally above water level. Two buoys mark the extent of outlying rocks. Boaters can safely pass on all sides of this hazard.
  • Due east from Gull Rock, there is a single buoy that marks a shallow spot (bedrock). Boaters should keep away 15 metres (50 feet) but can safely pass on all sides of this hazard.
  • Off Bernard Point, three buoys mark a series of submerged rocks. Although boaters can pass between Jellycake Island and these buoys, there is no safe passage between the buoys and the shore in front of the cottages on the point.
  • South and slightly east of Jellycake Island, three buoys have been placed in a triangle to mark a large shoal. The channel between this shoal and Jellycake Island is safe for boating. However, power boats should not attempt to pass between this shoal and the shore in front of cottages near the end of ch. de la Baie-Regatta (B).
  • Just north of Round Island there is a large collection of submerged rocks. Four buoys have been placed to outline the extent of the hazard here. Boaters can safely pass on all sides of these rocks.

Mitchell’s Bay

  • Three rigid markers indicate boulders or shoals. These markers are located at the northwest side of Rowe’s Island and at the southeast end of Berry Island. Boaters should stay at least 15 metres (50 feet) away from these markers.
  • Single buoys mark rocks lying south of Rowe’s Island and the position of several boulders near a brown boathouse on the eastern shore of this bay.
  • Three buoys have been placed around rocks lying off Pin Point Island. Boaters can safely navigate around this island.
  • On the west side of this bay there are two hazards between the shore and Mitchell’s Island, each marked by a single buoy. Boaters can pass between these two buoys to enter the small bay off ch. des Bois (C2).
  • Three buoys are placed between Round Island and the shore near the end of Regatta Bay Road. They indicate a larger grouping of boulders. There is no “easy” passage through this area.

East End

  • A single buoy marks a shoal in front of several cottages on ch. Brennan (L3).
  • Two buoys mark a large shoal on the west side of the channel. Power boating between this shoal and the shore is not possible.
  • A single buoy marks rocks lying between Partridge Island and the shore. Boaters can safely pass between these rocks and the island.
  • Four buoys have been placed to mark the channel leading into Turtle Bay between the shore and Loon Island. Boaters should use extreme caution during periods of low water levels when entering Turtle Bay.