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Under certain circumstances, the operation of a motorboat could constitute a nuisance.  However, in the absence of sufficient evidence that a boat was operated so as to produce unreasonable noise, shore erosion, disturbance of fish beds, or danger to swimmers, courts have held that the operation of the motorboat on an inland lake could not be enjoined as a nuisance.  Where the plaintiff, a grantor under a deed to the defendant of land bordering a lake, had the right to exercise reserved rights and to make rules restricting the operation of motorboats on the lake so long as they are reasonable, the operation of a motorboat could not constitute a nuisance[i].

Moreover, landowners are not entitled to enjoin the operation of motorboats on a navigable stream at allegedly excessive speeds in the absence of evidence showing that:

  • the statute prescribing speed limits had been violated; or
  • the boats were operated at such a speed and in such a manner as to create waves which damaged the lands or to constitute a wrongful invasion of the rights of the landowners[ii].

A public resort with a boating facility is not necessarily a nuisance[iii].  “Nuisance consists in unlawfully doing an act, or omitting to perform a duty, which act or omission either annoys, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of others, offends decency, or unlawfully interferes with, obstructs or tends to obstruct, or render dangerous for passage, any lake or navigable river, bay, stream, canal, or basin, or any public park, square, street or highway; or in any way renders other persons insecure in life, or in the use of property”[iv].

[i] Forest Land Co. v. Black, 216 S.C. 255 (S.C. 1950)

[ii] McCauley v. Salmon, 234 Iowa 1020 (Iowa 1944)

[iii] Rockville Water & Aqueduct Co. v. Koelsch, 90 Conn. 171 (Conn. 1916)

[iv] Turtle v. Fitchett, 156 Wash. 328 (Wash. 1930)

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