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There’s nothing better than taking your boat or a jetski out onto the water after a long winter in hibernation. But where should you launch your watercraft to get the most out of it this season? After all, you’ve been patiently waiting. We’ve got the go-to list here.

There’s nothing better than taking your boat or a jetski out onto the water after a long winter in hibernation. But where should you launch your watercraft to get the most out of it this season? After all, you’ve been patiently waiting. We’ve got the go-to list here.

But before hooking up the trailer to the car, there are a few checks you need to do to ensure your watercraft is ready, namely checking the battery, trailer, and vessel.


Quick Checklist Before Launching Your Watercraft

As we spoke about in our tips to keep your boat’s battery in the best shape, it’s essential to connect it to a maintenance charger (or trickle charger) while out of the watercraft to ensure it is fully charged when you want to put it back.

When left alone, your battery can lose 1 – 3% of charge every month. If you’re unsure whether the battery is in optimum condition, you can use a multimeter to test your lead acid battery. A healthy, fully charged battery will produce above 12.7 volts.

If you have placed it into the watercraft and it’s flat, you can jump-start it like a car’s battery. But if you’re sure that the battery isn’t working or are nervous about testing it, you can find your nearest SABAT Battery Xpress, and we’ll happily assist you.

Now let’s talk about other checks to perform on your watercraft.


Watercraft Trailer Checks

For most, getting from home to the water will require a trailer. Always check the lights on the trailer and the condition of its tyres. Another aspect to check is the trailer’s license disc.

Ensure all the contact points between the trailer and the watercraft are intact. Otherwise, you could damage your vessel. The winch must also be tested, especially if you are launching a larger vessel.

If all is good, it is time to check the vessel itself.


Vessel Checks

Whenever you remove your vessel from storage, make sure that you complete the following checks on it before launching. These include:

  • Ensuring navigation lights work (on a boat)
  • Check anchor and tackle (on a boat)
  • Check the hull for damage, soft spots, or blistering
  • Test gauges
  • Make sure the marine radio works
  • Check engine oil for level and colour
  • Make sure the fuel system isn’t leaking
  • Check propellers, or jets, for damage,
  • Test vessel’s trim (can it steer)

While this is a general guideline, it’s always best to get your watercraft looked over by a professional before hitting the water.

Now that we’ve done all the checks before launching your watercraft, here are our top suggestions for the best lakes and dams for water sports in South Africa.


Eastern Cape

Better known for its wild coast and natural beauty, the Eastern Cape is a province full of hidden gems! Like Wriggleswade Dam! So, what can you expect from this hidden South African treasure?


Wriggleswade Dam

Nestled between the rolling grassland of the surrounding farmlands, it’s just outside of Stutterheim. The dam itself stretches for 17km and covers 1000 hectares of water. Which means there’s plenty of room for play.

The Stutterheim Aquatic Club runs the dam, which has roughly 60 camping and caravan spots with power. There are also three ablution blocks.

If you want a cabin, there are a few for rent on the water’s edge. And if you want to check the water levels in the region, you can look them up on the Amatola water board’s website.


Free State

The province of the big open sky, the Free State, has loads of inland water sporting options. But we’re going to highlight our favourite, which is the Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve.

Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve.

Wedged between Lesotho and Harrismith, the Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve is pristine. Every February, the reserve hosts a Catamaran Championship on its 7,000-hectare surface.

The dam is known for its strong winds, so exercise caution if you are a novice, even with a jet ski or power boat. While the birdlife is fantastic, you’ll unlikely see them when jetting past on your watercraft.

Also, the closest branch of SABAT Xpress is situated in Bethlehem.



The economic hub of the country, Egoli has loads to offer in the realm of watersports, as you’d expect. After all, it is always bigger and better in Gauteng. The spot we’re highlighting isn’t the largest dam on this list – but it is unique.


Cradle Moon Lake

Just 30-minutes from the shopping hub of Sandton, Cradle Moon Lake has a literal white sands beach. This peaceful paradise is situated just alongside the Crocodile River. While it is well-equipped, it is more for swimmers and paddlers, but we thought it was worth a mention.

And of course there is the usual suggestion, and it’s the province’s go-to destination for a reason.


Vaal River

Who hasn’t enjoyed a day on the river with the sun beating down and the water spraying in your face? There is loads to see and do along the river, and local restaurants, spas, and golf courses have built docks to accommodate watercraft of all kinds.

Go with the crowd on this one, the Vaal River is just a fantastic body of water to really enjoy yourself.



With its majestic coastline, it might seem odd to head inland in KwaZulu-Natal. But then again, during December, most locals in the province are keen to slip away from the influx of local tourists.


Bivane Dam

Nestled between the rolling foothills of the Drakensberg, the Bivane Dam is a splendid mix of tranquility and adventure.

Below the dam wall, adventurers can tackle the rough waters, and on the dam, you can really stretch your watercraft’s legs. If you plan to go to Bivane Dam, you will need a seasonal ticket.

The Bivane Dam website also gives an indication of water levels.



This vast and majestic province is known for its fantastic wildlife. It’s a place where time has stood still for eons!

And no dam in the province represents this more than Mokolo Dam.

Mokolo Dam Nature Reserve

The dam is the largest in the province, covering an area of 4600 hectares. This is a remote site, and the campsites are rustic.

But if you are looking for a complete break from the urban hustle and bustle, there’s no better spot for watersports.


The biodiversity of Mpumalanga is difficult to match. Home to all of South Africa’s most majestic creatures, it is a province with loads of natural beauty over every hill.

And one of the spots you can take in some of these sights is at Loskop Dam.


Loskop Dam

Fed by the Olifants River, the dam is home to several wild animals such as eland, antelope, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, and more.

The dam itself is something to behold; at roughly 30km long, it is the longest dam in the Southern Hemisphere. There are several accommodation options on offer.


Northern Cape

The vastness of the Northern Cape means you’re miles away from civilization. But with this fantastic expanse comes a certain beauty that is unique to the region.

While the following suggestion is not a dam, it is South Africa’s longest river.


The Orange River

It’s hard to imagine the entire river as it starts in Lesotho, heads through the Free State, climbs down through the Northern Cape and finally ends at the Atlantic Ocean in Namibia. There are also many dams along its course, including the Gariep Dam.

We’d suggest picking a location closest to you and finding the correct permits for taking your watercraft onto the river.


North West

The obvious choice in the North West province would be the Hartbeespoort Dam. And we’re going to suggest that’s where you take your watercraft.

It’s easy to access, has multiple access picks, and it literally cradled in the lap of some majestic mountains. What more could you ask for?


Western Cape

Better known for its beaches and lifestyle in the city center, the Western Cape has some true hidden gems off the beaten track. And the next suggestion again – is a river.



Situated on the banks of the Breede River and roughly 25 kilometers from the mouth of the Witsand, Malgas is a small town that still operates a man-hauled pontoon cable ferry.

The river alongside the town is wide and quiet, making it a perfect spot to escape the main watersport hubs.

If you hurry, you could be the last person on the man-operated ferry, as it will be replaced, and a new chapter will begin in the small town of Malgas.


Conclusion About Best Lakes and Dams For Water Sports

It’s always in your best interest to practice safety when operating watercraft and to never add alcohol to the mix.

And always ensure your craft starts the first time with the correct battery installed.



  • Andrew McFarlane

    Andrew Macfarlane has accumulated over a decade of experience in content creation - graduating from the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business with a Diploma in Copywriting. When he is not engrossed in writing at his computer, he can be found tending to his garden or engaging in various DIY projects. His contributions as an author have been acknowledged in reputable publications such as the Sunday Times, Bizcommunity, and HotCars, further solidifying his reputation as a skilled and versatile writer.

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