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

Well, not on schedule. But it’s the first day of summer on Marcus Johnson’s mind.

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

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

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

Johnson and his two friends were planning to wakesurf on 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 almost cloudless day. A herd of baby Canada geese swam near the Blackwell Island boat launch, where Johnson and others stopped off, in the early afternoon. The dark green waters of Lac Coeur d’Alene were full of white wake lines.

Johnson and his friends were far from the only group to hit the water for the first time this year. But it wasn’t Randy Buell’s first weekend on the water in 2021. He often goes out in the winter and wakeboarding in a wetsuit.

His Sunday was quiet. He took friends on his 1999 Supra – a tournament ski boat – for a birthday party. It was just a day of walking, he said, nothing fancy.

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

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

Buell has sailed many lakes, but he said Lac Coeur d’Alene stands out.

“It is one of the most beautiful places in the world,” he said. “There isn’t much that compares to that.”

Holly Nash said it was the wide array of options that made Lac Coeur d’Alene such a popular 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 the lake rewards those who know it well. He has been on its waters for decades and the experience is paying off. He knows spots off the beaten track. The hidden rope swings; the perfect cliffs for long jumps in the water.

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

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