Drop an anchor and cool off

Dan Field
Special to the Lake Sun
Party Cove is much quieter than it used to be.

Finding a place to drop anchor and cove out at the Lake of the Ozarks on weekends can be as challenging as finding a vacant poolside veranda at a tropical resort.

But if you can get the crew out the door before noon and you’re stealthy, there’s a place for you, your boat, your water toys and even your dogs.

The best advice is to pick a general direction and explore what that particular area of the lake has to offer. There’s plenty of space out there, even for those seeking lots of solitude.

The Lake of the Ozarks offers 1,100 miles of shoreline between Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark and Truman Dam in Warsaw. So, you see, opportunity abounds. The Lake has gotten busier in the last decade and you might have to share a cove, or you might find solace in tying up with a string of boats. There’s enough room for everybody.

Notice, though, that some coves are restricted to no wake and a few don’t allow tie-ups or anchoring at all due to past problems associated with a party atmosphere. The Missouri State Water Patrol set the areas and enforces the rules. Those coves are clearly marked.

Some coves can get congested on weekends but if you enjoy more of a social experience, those are the coves to hang out with friends and enjoy the scenery.

Where to go?

There are any number of arms or coves scattered along the 93-miles of Lake from dam to dam.

Growing in popularity —  and no longer a secret to locals — is the Grand Glaize Arm of the Lake which lies beyond the Grand Glaize Bridge. Because much of the shoreline is part of the Missouri State Parks there isn’t nearly as much residential or commercial development. So it’s not as busy.

Starting from Bagnell Dam, there are several long coves that offer anchoring opportunities.

These include:

The Grand Glaize Arm stretches for several miles back into the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Be careful, though. When you get toward the end it gets shallow and there are numerous stumps. Eventually you’ll reach Public Beach 1 in the State Park. For historical purposes, you’ll pass Anderson Hollow Cove at about the 3.5-mile marker, home to what once was the bawdy but popular Party Cove. Now, it’s just a great place to cove out.

If you have a Lake map, look for Watson Hollow Cove (aka Girl Scout Cove), Red Bud Hollow, Pin Oak Hollow and farther down the Glaize Arm Honey Run Hollow.

Toward the other end of the lake — toward Bagnell Dam  — The Gravois Arm of the Lake at about the 6-mile marker offers not only some great areas to anchor and relax, but several watering holes that double as restaurants.

Ha Ha Tonka Cove between the 14-and 15-mile maker of the Niangua Arm is popular, but a long way from most waterfront hangouts on the water. It’s a nice day trip that will take you past Bridal Cave as well. It’s quieter up that way, so enjoy. Just make sure you have a full tank of gas. It primarily serves the boating population in the Camdenton area.

Windermere Cove at the 7-mile marker of the Niangua can be fun as well.

These areas are at the outlying points of the Lake because typically they are the less traveled. There are dozens of coves in-between that are suitable for coving out, so it’s best to take some time exploring. As you pass some of the major branches of the Lake just take a side trip or glance down the waterway — if there are boats tied up, that’s the place to go.

Our suggestions?

• Get out early to ensure you have the best location possible.

• Be courteous of other boaters. Enter the coves below wake speed and motor gently through the conglomeration of boats.

• If you’re on a PWC, again please be courteous of others. Keep it under control until you’re a safe distance from other boaters.

• Take plenty of water to stay hydrated. It can get pretty hot anchored in a cove for several hours.

• Stock the cooler with plenty of snacks and cool drinks. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

• Make sure you have plenty of approved lifejackets on hand for everyone on the boat. Even the pets!

• Be sure to shut the engine down before allowing anyone off the boat.