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The real first day of summer: Memorial Day weekend boaters out in force on Lake CdA

UPDATED: Sun., May 30, 2021

The first day on the water is the first day of summer.

Well, not according to the calendar. But it’s the first day of summer in Marcus Johnson’s mind.

Johnson got out on his boat with his friends Sunday for the first time this year. He said he was excited to be out on Lake Coeur d’Alene, even though it was crowded.

“I feel like making those boat payments was finally worth it,” Johnson said with a chuckle.

The whole reason Johnson bought his boat – a Super Air Nautique G23 – was because it fosters camaraderie. He said the craft is just “an excuse to get everyone together.”

Johnson and his two friends planned to do some wakesurfing Sunday. And Kyle Doering, one of Johnson’s friends, said the trio aimed to “hit every bar on the lake.”

Sunday was a sunny, warm and nearly cloudless day. A gaggle of baby Canada geese swam near the Blackwell Island boat launch, where Johnson and others put in, in the early afternoon. Lake Coeur d’Alene’s dark green waters were full of white wake lines.

Johnson and his friends were far from the only group hitting the water for the first time this year. But it wasn’t Randy Buell’s first weekend on the water in 2021. He’ll often go out in winter and wakeboard with a wetsuit.

His Sunday was leisurely. He took some friends out on his 1999 Supra – a tournament ski boat – as part of a birthday celebration. It was just a ride-around day, he said, nothing fancy.

Every time out on Lake Coeur d’Alene is special though, Buell said.

“It’s a break from the everyday, really,” he said. “I love the water, the sun, the trees. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid.”

Buell’s been boating on a lot of lakes, but he said Lake Coeur d’Alene stands out.

“It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world,” he said. “There’s not much that compares with it.”

Holly Nash said that it’s the wide array of options that make Lake Coeur d’Alene a sought-after destination. You can take your boat to a restaurant or to one of the towns on the lake. You’re not stuck in one place, she said.

Buell said that the lake rewards those who know it well. He’s been out on its waters for decades, and that experience pays off. He knows the spots off the beaten path. The hidden rope swings; the cliffs perfect for long jumps into the water.

“I’ve been here my whole life,” he said, “and I still discover something new almost every time I come up here.”

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