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Old 06-12-2012, 04:03 PM   #1
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Boating speed limits

In Florida there are 3 speed limits that I can think of.
1. The areas where a specific maximum speed is posted. Generally in the AICW that will be a max of 25 mph. Not much discussion or explanation needed.

2. Idle speed no wake. The definition of which is: A speed no greater than that which is necessary to maintain steerage and headway. I guess this can be subject to some interpretation, but for the most part I think most people understand this speed limit.

3. Slow speed minimum wake zone. The definition is: Areas where vessels must be fully off plane and completely settled in the water.
In Florida many people including law enforcement seem to think this includes minimum wake.

I've got some nasty looks and a couple of yells from law enforcement when I've been in minimum wake zones, fully off plane and settled in the water but too fast for their thinking.

Just wondering what you guys think?

My boat puts out a huge wake fully off plane and settled in the water. Probably just as much as doing 18 kts.
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:23 PM   #2
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The only speed zone I have is. No wake in the harbor.

For some reason people like to yell that on the VHF

After you are out of the harbor it's ocean.

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Old 06-12-2012, 06:20 PM   #3
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I got pulled over in Astor and given a warning in a No Wake zone in my 15'11" cuddy. I was going 5 1/2 mph. The water cop said No Wake means no white water at the bow or stern. We tested to see what speed that would be for me and it turned out to be 4 mph. Of course it depends on the direction and current. In some places with a strong current I suppose you could get a No Wake ticket at anchor.
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Old 06-12-2012, 06:45 PM   #4
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we have no wake zones and 5 mph zones. People will yell at you for idling in forward through a no wake zone! there is no pleasing some people.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:02 PM   #5
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I was in Florida last month. Most of last month and mostly on the St. Johns River. I saw what timjet saw, but I also saw "Idle Speed, No Wake within 50 feet of shoreline, 30 MPH daytime, 25 MPH nightime in the channel".

Entering Lake Monroe was a sign "Idle Speed, No Wake within 300 yards of North Shore". Figure that one out, will you!

A water cop yelled at me just after I passed under the bridges entering Lake Monroe. He said "SLOW DOWN". I don't know how fast I was going, but it wasn't fast at all, probably 3 - 4 knots.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:48 PM   #6
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People will yell at you for idling in forward through a no wake zone! there is no pleasing some people.
In Richmond, CA's Santa Fe Channel, I've gotten visual signals (lowering/raising a hand below the waist) from people on docks when I've come in "hot" at five knots. My lowest speed is 3.5 knots unless not in gear.

The Coot's cruising-speed wake:

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Old 06-12-2012, 10:32 PM   #7
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In Florida there are 3 speed limits that I can think of.
1. The areas where a specific maximum speed is posted. Generally in the AICW that will be a max of 25 mph. Not much discussion or explanation needed.

2. Idle speed no wake. The definition of which is: A speed no greater than that which is necessary to maintain steerage and headway. I guess this can be subject to some interpretation, but for the most part I think most people understand this speed limit.

3. Slow speed minimum wake zone. The definition is: Areas where vessels must be fully off plane and completely settled in the water.
In Florida many people including law enforcement seem to think this includes minimum wake.

I've got some nasty looks and a couple of yells from law enforcement when I've been in minimum wake zones, fully off plane and settled in the water but too fast for their thinking.

Just wondering what you guys think?

My boat puts out a huge wake fully off plane and settled in the water. Probably just as much as doing 18 kts.
Tim, there are speed limits of varying limits all along the East coast of Florida. In addition to the ones you sited there are some 30 mph limits. You also have to read the small print as some are date related. There are a couple of places (I think Worth Creek above Riviera Beach is one) with a 15" maximum wake. I thought that kind of ridiculous until a Sea Ray got tired of it, and passed us doing about 20 knots. The narrow channel between the seawalls turned into a washing machine. The waves bouncing from one side to the other. I too have gotten some looks when in idle speed. That is about 5 knots for me.

The speed limits are the most tedious things on the ICW. There is a no wake zone below New Smyrna Beach that takes over an hour to get through. Then when you get in Mosquito Lagoon there is one speed limit for day and one for night. You really need someone just reading the signs for you. They are set so far out of the channel that you can't read them well----especially at 27 knots.
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:02 PM   #8
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There are a few speed limited areas here. Our marina has a 4 knot/no wake limit throughout the marina. Lake Washington has a 6 or 7 knot limit within 100 yards of the shoreline and under the bridges. There are speed limits on a few of the narrower passes in the San Juan's like Pole Pass. This is to protect boats docked near the channel, not a limit due to the narrowness of the pass itself.

While our boat doesn't put out much of a wake at 8 knots we slow down when passing close to kayakers and trolling or jigging sport fishermen. During the summer in particular the radio lights up periodically with cursing from fisherman at some big plowing boat like Bayliners and such whose skippers pay no attention to their surroundings or their wake and power past everyone regardless of the effect their wake has on them.
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:32 PM   #9
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... we slow down when passing close to kayakers and trolling or jigging sport fishermen.
Ditto



... but there seems to be no wake limit around me.

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Old 06-13-2012, 07:30 AM   #10
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Stay reasonable...smile and wave at the people who don't want a ripple when they are at dock/fishing but are clueless underway...or the people who never leave the dock.

Yeah Florida is a challenge with all the different speed signs...need a good set of binocs and pay close attention when passing through bridges, etc for a sudden change in rules.

Nice thing about going slow in a trawler to conserve fuel...you are probably minimum wake ALL the time...
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:11 AM   #11
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What annoys me are the "No Wake" signs put up by individuals who have no authority to do so. Some have coppied the official signs so you don't really know if yo are violating a real No Wake zone or just someone's make believe one. Compare this to a homeowner putting up speed limit signs in front of his/her house.

A typical trawler a seven knots does create a wake. Not like a sport fish at 30 MPH, but it's a big enough wake to be a violation.

As for posting actual speed limits in miles per hour, would that limit be "over water" or "over ground"? With out GPS systems, we can measure speed over ground, but I've never seen a boat speedometer that can measure 6 MPH over water.

Personally, I try to obey the laws and I try to be courtious, but once in a while, I'll miss a sign because I'm concentrationg on something else. A couple of times, I have found myself going too fast through a drawbridge so other boats can pass in the other direction or so the bridge can be lowered for auto traffic. I have to learn to forget about other folks and take my own sweet time.
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:36 AM   #12
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Yeah Florida is a challenge with all the different speed signs...need a good set of binocs and pay close attention when passing through bridges, etc for a sudden change in rules.
Yeah, one of my pet peeves is someone hopping up into the navigators chair because they want a better view. Then start asking questions like, "what kind of bird is that" or "where does that channel go". They have the chart table and binoculars in front of them, but say, "oh, I could never see out of those". It's great when a guest is on the boat like Norm when we came over. Norm is a retired Navy Captain that taught ship handling at the Academy. He plotted and kept up with our position on paper for the whole 165 NM.

Many people who run small boats or even larger ones, but don't really cruise don't realize the concentration that it takes---especially at our speeds.
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:38 AM   #13
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For us its go for it or no wake.

For me no wake means that I can have the engines in gear at idle.

If that means some get ruffled, oh well. I can't control my boat without steerage way, and that means engines in gear and idle speed.
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:40 AM   #14
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What annoys me are the "No Wake" signs put up by individuals who have no authority to do so. Some have coppied the official signs so you don't really know if yo are violating a real No Wake zone or just someone's make believe one. Compare this to a homeowner putting up speed limit signs in front of his/her house.

A typical trawler a seven knots does create a wake. Not like a sport fish at 30 MPH, but it's a big enough wake to be a violation.

As for posting actual speed limits in miles per hour, would that limit be "over water" or "over ground"? With out GPS systems, we can measure speed over ground, but I've never seen a boat speedometer that can measure 6 MPH over water.

Personally, I try to obey the laws and I try to be courtious, but once in a while, I'll miss a sign because I'm concentrationg on something else. A couple of times, I have found myself going too fast through a drawbridge so other boats can pass in the other direction or so the bridge can be lowered for auto traffic. I have to learn to forget about other folks and take my own sweet time.
In NJ if the sign/buoy doesn't have the NJ State Police initials with the state law code numbers on it...then it's not official. But in most cases it's in front of (within 200') a dock so it's slow speed/no wake anyhow.

I am happy to see a lot of areas of the AICW with new construction using boat lifts. I hope that is in response towns/states telling residents just because they are dumb enough to build on the ACIW that they don't get no wake privledges.

I have always said that the next big war on the water after the jet ski issue would be the "no wake" zone issue and anchoring &/or fishing (clogging) in the AICW issue.
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:48 PM   #15
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I have run the Intracoastal Waterway dozens of times starting in 1975. Each year I see new houses along the banks with new unofficial No Wake signs. So the owners build a new house on the ICW so they can watch the boats go by and use their own boats there, and put up their own signs to make the rest of us go slow? If there is a boat at their dock I slow, if it is a fixed dock without a boat I do not want to slow, but sometimes I might.
Here in South Florida we have some Manatee Zones that are in force only on weekends. I guess the manatees do not go to work those days.
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Old 06-13-2012, 04:06 PM   #16
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Regardless, isn't one responsible for damage caused by one's wake?
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:26 PM   #17
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Regardless, isn't one responsible for damage caused by one's wake?
In theory, yes. In practice, rarely.

You have to catch the person and prove he or she was operating the boat. You have to have witnesses or video. You have to have actual damages such as an overturned boat, broken limbs, etc. Spilling your drink will not do. "Wear and tear" on a dock or boat isn't going to do it either.

There are a few documented cases of a boat speeding past a marina, causing damage to several boats, and the name or registration being recorded, and the violation reported to law enforcement who then actually tracked down the offender. It's pretty rare, though.

As far as the sign having to have the official decal and/or law number to be "real", it's not all that hard to copy this information or copy an official sign. We aren't looking at it close up, we are a hundred feet or more away on a rocking boat. You won't get a ticket for violating a home made sign, the idea is that you will think it's an official sign and slow down.
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Old 06-14-2012, 01:42 AM   #18
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Regardless, isn't one responsible for damage caused by one's wake?

Actually I have never seen a federal or state law that did not have the word neglegent or reckless in it as far as wake damage goes.

Basically if you are in a speed controlled zone you need to go that speed. If you are in a no wake zone, you need to have no wake, or minimum wake possible for your boat.

If you are in an unregulated area you can use your boat within its operational limits and not worry about wake damage claims.

***Note*** boats over 1600 tons do have wake limits as part of the navrules.
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Old 06-14-2012, 01:55 AM   #19
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In California "The maximum speed for motorboats within 100 feet of a bather (but not a water skier) and within 200 feet of a bathing beach, swimming float, diving platform or life line, passenger landing being used, or landing where boats are tied up is five miles per hour." That's about 1100 RPM for the Coot.
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Old 06-14-2012, 06:17 AM   #20
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Actually I have never seen a federal or state law that did not have the word neglegent or reckless in it as far as wake damage goes.

Basically if you are in a speed controlled zone you need to go that speed. If you are in a no wake zone, you need to have no wake, or minimum wake possible for your boat.

If you are in an unregulated area you can use your boat within its operational limits and not worry about wake damage claims.

***Note*** boats over 1600 tons do have wake limits as part of the navrules.
While I agree that the wake issue is gray in its specifics...many states have specific wording that includes some thing like "you are always responsible" and that would apply to all waters within the state waters.

If you rock a small boat (but big enough for the water it is operating in)severely enough to swamp it and someone is hurt...I'm pretty sure a wake claim may result and even the authorities would get involved.

However the "always responsible" is/can be offset be the other skipper not being a "responsible seaman"...so that is where the gray area arises in my experience.
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