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Old 07-29-2017, 10:45 AM   #1
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Observing Unsafe Boating

This thread is started just for us to discuss as any of us observe any form of unsafe boating operation. What we observed? What we did if anything? What we should have done if anything? What we as a boating community at large can do? Is it lack of training and knowledge or just lack of good common sense? Are there ways to reduce loss of life on the water?
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Old 07-29-2017, 11:50 AM   #2
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I've seen lots of cases of unsafe boating. Some by boats that I've been running. (Oops).

I had a ski boat pulling a young girl cut in front of our sailboat as we were motoring at 6 knots. The skier crossed our bow less than a boat length away and this was after I had cut power and turned away.

I didn't do anything. The driver (looks like the father of the skier) seemed to be surprised when he looked back and saw me. Being a sailboat, I didn't have a handy horn to blow (he was long gone by the time I could have gone below and gotten the air horn out). I didn't bother with the radio (yes mine was on, monitored, and my remote mic was at hand) since I doubted he was monitoring and likely couldn't have heard it over the noise of the water and motor. No sense in filing a complaint with the Sheriff as they would be hard pressed to be able to take action without witnessing the event. My feeling, based on the surprised look on the father's face, is that it likely scared him more than it alarmed me. Hopefully this was a good learning experience and he will be more careful in the future.

I've seen plenty of close passes by large boats throwing huge wakes. This does create a safety issue for the waked boat. I consider it discourteous in the extreme, dangerous, and in some cases illegal. However, there really isn't any good recourse. I've never broadcast a complaint on the radio as when I hear that type of thing it is obvious that it is ineffective. If I sustained significant damage or injury, then I would contact the USCG but that has never been the case.

We always seen kayak and SUP renters in my harbor who are doing stupid stuff. Primarily it is not having a PFD and often sitting in the middle of a narrow channel while draft limited boats are trying to get by. They also have a bad habit of suddenly turning into the path of large boats. Fortunately, the harbor is one of the best protected harbors in Puget Sound and the water is generally very quite. The harbor is also a no wake zone with a 5 mph max speed. Most of the resident boaters are used to these weekend water bugs and are very cautious. The only time I have done anything about it was a few weeks ago when I was being towed back to my slip. The Vessel Assist boat was attached to my stern quarter and we had limited maneuverability and the Vessel Assist captain had limited visibility. We both use our horns to warn and scatter these folks.

I have considered discussing the rental problems with the three primary rental operators to see if there is some additional guidance they can give to their customers. I am happy to have these renters enjoying the water. They help support the economy of Gig Harbor. I just want the to be safe and to not endanger other boats.

That should be enough to get you started.... :-)
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Old 07-29-2017, 12:04 PM   #3
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Since my marina is next to a busy public boat ramp and our dock faces it, we have seen most of the "stupid boat tricks" possible.

Jumping from a rocking boat to a rocking floating dock

Using hands and feet to fend of the boat (foot fenders)

Balancing on the trailer tongue while the trailer is being driven up the ramp

Feet hanging in the water when the boat is underway

Sitting on a swim platform with legs and feet in the water on a sterndrive that's underway

Untying all lines (and drifting away from the dock) before trying to start the engine

Inoperative running lights (at night)

Using docking lights as headlights while underway (at night)

And the classic alcohol use while boating
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Old 07-29-2017, 12:11 PM   #4
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Yes, a guy was pulling a tube with two teenage girls on it coming towards me in a narrow channel in a relatively wide body of water. He moved to the side but of course the tube didn't. I stopped and the tube barely missed my boat. The girls screamed and jumped off. Strangely, I also had two paddleboarders cross the channnel between me and an oncoming boat in the very same area a couple years later.
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Old 07-29-2017, 12:30 PM   #5
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I'd have to say I have also witnessed most of the things that WesK had mentioned above.

Plus once I had a ski boat driver almost impale his skier on the outboard of my 20 ft center console. He was watching the skier, not where he was going and he ran up on me, panicked when he saw me, and cut the wheel hard whipping the skier at my boat. Luckily the skier let go otherwise he would have landed on my outboard's prop.
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Old 07-29-2017, 12:50 PM   #6
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I'd have to say I have also witnessed most of the things that WesK had mentioned above.

Plus once I had a ski boat driver almost impale his skier on the outboard of my 20 ft center console. He was watching the skier, not where he was going and he ran up on me, panicked when he saw me, and cut the wheel hard whipping the skier at my boat. Luckily the skier let go otherwise he would have landed on my outboard's prop.
That's sort of a basic of whether anyone should be allowed to pull a skier without a second person aboard watching the skier, facing back.
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Old 07-29-2017, 01:19 PM   #7
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Being in South Florida and boating and being on the waterfront from Ft Lauderdale to Key West over the last 45 years I believe I have seen every possible unsafe boating act that doesn't involve ice outside a glass or cooler.

If I did anything about any of it I wouldn't have time for anything else. Just sitting in the shade of any busy public boat ramp on a nice summer weekend is the kind of entertainment most landlubbers would pay dearly for.

I just hope no one gets hurt or killed. For events like Lobster mini-season, 4th of July or Columbus Day we often have a fatality count.

For instance, doesn't look like anything dangerous was going on here, but note the headline "First death"

First death of lobster miniseason: 79-year-old snorkeler towed behind boat | Miami Herald
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Old 07-29-2017, 01:39 PM   #8
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That's sort of a basic of whether anyone should be allowed to pull a skier without a second person aboard watching the skier, facing back.
It is required in WA to have a spotter. Of course, it doesn't mean the spotter is doing a good job. It is also required for the spotter to have and use a flag that is held aloft when a skier is in the water and down.
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Old 07-29-2017, 01:49 PM   #9
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I just hope no one gets hurt or killed. For events like Lobster mini-season, 4th of July or Columbus Day we often have a fatality count.

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Old 07-29-2017, 02:06 PM   #10
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Middle River, MD on a Sunday. Let the games begin.

Most recently we were nearly harpooned by an overtaking 18' boat with a young lady at the helm with 3 very drunken male passengers. Apparently she became the DD. About 30 feet from my stern she steered to avoid the imminent. Scared the heck out of the Admiral and me.

We lived to boat another day.

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Old 07-29-2017, 02:14 PM   #11
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How about the other part of BanB's question? What have you done in response to the unsafe behavior witnessed? I certainly am looking for new ideas.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:27 PM   #12
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How about the other part of BanB's question? What have you done in response to the unsafe behavior witnessed? I certainly am looking for new ideas.
Other than reporting this to the authorities and hoping they are concerned enough to respond, there's little that we can do. People do not like it when someone else points out their stupidity and most likely will miss the point.

I have figured out that it is pointless to try to change other people's behavior unless you have the legal authority to do so. Even then it seldom works.

Mandatory safe boating instruction and licensing for boaters would be a start but it's pretty difficult to tell someone who has been boating for thirty years that he has to take a class and pass a test to continue boating.

More and better enforcement on the water would help but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Much of what I see (like standing on the trailer tongue while the trailer is being towed) is just pure stupidity and as we all know, you can't fix stupid..
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:30 PM   #13
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How about the other part of BanB's question? What have you done in response to the unsafe behavior witnessed? I certainly am looking for new ideas.
On the lake I was close to all the Game Wardens so I'd notify them at least to look for it. Also a smaller area to cover.

On the coast I've done very little and don't really know what constructively to do. If they just messed up, no need to do anything, they know. If they're doing something legal that I feel is unsafe, nothing I can do. I've only gotten further involved twice. Both times were over very drunk operators. Once was at the marina and I told him that if he took off in the boat, I would notify law enforcement to find him. He wasn't happy but he and his two cohorts spent the night right there in their center console. The other I observed at the marina but had no idea they intended to boat. He couldn't even stand up straight. He got in a fight with the dockmaster and when another person docked there said something about their condition cursed them out. I called as we all saw them head out. They were towed back shortly after and the operator hauled off in cuffs plus his girlfriend or wife for public drunkenness and interfering with police. He got a couple more charges too plus he had outstanding warrants.

So, I did something only when sure and only when knowing there was a danger. Both times concerned with what might happen, not something that already had.

I've seen plenty of people screw up on the coast but I'm sure some have seen me do so. However, outrageous reportable unsafe operation was far more common on the lake. Pulling tubes, skiers, etc. Overloading. Children hanging over the side. Partying on pontoon boats that apparently they think can't overturn and can't sink, but they can.

On the TN River I saw boats pull skiers across in front of barges, not considering what might happen if the skier fell. However, telling law enforcement wouldn't do anything as they wouldn't be able to see it.
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Old 07-29-2017, 05:16 PM   #14
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My four-plus decades on the water, mostly in Florida, have convinced me that vessel operator licensing with comprehensive, meaningful, mandatory boater education is the only solution. When I was in my teens and twenties, I opposed any kind of boating regulations. No more - we are badly overdue for legislation that keeps boats out of the hands of uneducated, untrained or just plain irresponsible people whose only qualification is a credit card or a checkbook.

Libertarians will wail, boat manufacturers and dealers will hire lobbyists, and political candidates will waffle and weasel. All of them are dead wrong to oppose tough boater licensing laws.
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Old 07-29-2017, 05:17 PM   #15
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Last March we were a company of three 41' sailboats motoring along at decent but not distant intervals parallel to an island shore about 1/3 mi to starboard. The island was one of those along the north shore of Tortola.

I was at the helm of the last boat. A power cat, just slightly faster and halfway to shore from us on a slowly converging course came up from behind, gradually getting closer and closer abeam as he established some overlap. At first I figured he would either change course to parallel us and pass inside, or slow just a tad and cross astern. He did neither. When he was slightly ahead, and very close, I raised both arms as if to ask "what the hell"? He pointed to open sea behind us, and offshore and shouted, "you've got plenty of room". H proceeded to cross our course, through a gap between me and the boat ahead not quite enough to be prudent. I slowed or RPM in order to give him a bit more room.

I believe he was clearly under an obligation to cross our course astern.
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Old 07-29-2017, 05:49 PM   #16
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Stupid unsafe boating is noticeable daily up here, ranging from people drinking too much aboard during a sunny Saturday trip to stupid parents towing they progeny at high speed and doing zigzag 20 feet in front of my boat (no issue they are not my kids), or people choosing to take over other boat full speed by passing between them when they are 30 feet from each other and it is just some examples.
What could be done, well until they discover a cure for stupidity I guess there is nothing much to do.

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Old 07-29-2017, 05:50 PM   #17
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+1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keysdisease View Post
Being in South Florida and boating and being on the waterfront from Ft Lauderdale to Key West over the last 45 years I believe I have seen every possible unsafe boating act that doesn't involve ice outside a glass or cooler.

If I did anything about any of it I wouldn't have time for anything else. Just sitting in the shade of any busy public boat ramp on a nice summer weekend is the kind of entertainment most landlubbers would pay dearly for.

I just hope no one gets hurt or killed. For events like Lobster mini-season, 4th of July or Columbus Day we often have a fatality count.

For instance, doesn't look like anything dangerous was going on here, but note the headline "First death"

First death of lobster miniseason: 79-year-old snorkeler towed behind boat | Miami Herald
Agree, I hate Govt regs but at least put in a 4-5 hour course on boating safety.
We all make stupid mistakes, but I grew up when few people could afford boats, the ones that could were usually responsible enough to learn.
A few years back I was boating with a friend & business partner who stopped in the middle of the ICW (busy & narrow here) to jump off the boat and go swimming (no anchor no nothing just stopped and jumped over). There are also a few other stories. Needless to say I no longer boat with them or get within 10 nm of them.
You can't legislate
Prosperity
Equality
Elimination of stupidity
Here in Florida under the age of 16 (have not checked recently as my kids are all older now, you are required to have a "boaters card) which requires answering questions online, maybe not adequate but its a start. Alll Ages should have to pass this test.
Maybe an endorsement on your drives lic? Like motor cycles.
Won't solve the whole problem, but just maybe some of these people with more money than brains will slow down a little and think before they do stupid stuff.
Hope I don't do any more stupid stuff as I get older but traveling @ 8 kts gives me a little more time to react vs 20 kts whenI was younger LOL
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Old 07-29-2017, 06:33 PM   #18
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Mandatory safe boating instruction and licensing for boaters would be a start but it's pretty difficult to tell someone who has been boating for thirty years that he has to take a class and pass a test to continue boating.

It's not that hard. Va just did it. Take the class or don't operate a vessel... Pretty easy. It's not enough though. A license should be required. Practical and written tests.
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Old 07-29-2017, 07:06 PM   #19
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I don't have a problem with a requirement for a class, especially one that can be taken on-line at the boater's convenience.

I don't agree with the need of a practical test, as this would not be practical. Would you have to practice with a licensed captain? Where would you take the test? What if boating on a lake and the test site is on the bay or coast?

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Old 07-29-2017, 07:08 PM   #20
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The impetus for change could come from insurance companies instead of government regulations. If they offered enough of a discount on insurance to encourage participation in formal training that would help. Once there was a pool of "educated" and "un-educated" boaters to gather data from...the cost savings to them would be quantifiable.

Do you get a reduced rate if you are a licensed Captain ?
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