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Old 07-20-2020, 03:46 PM   #1
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What is Idle Speed in a "No Wake" Zone?

Okay, so last week, the DNR folks were out in force covering no wake zones. I slipped by as they were handing out tickets. I was following a guy who was going my speed - he got picked up, but his wake was smaller than mine. I had more wake at 4 mph than the guy they pulled over. In this pic, my boat is entering our marina at about 2.5mph. I can't run at that speed in the channel if tides are going out when I am leaving - not enough control or water passing under the stern - especially when windy. So the question is - what does Idle Speed mean?
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Old 07-20-2020, 04:02 PM   #2
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Okay, so last week, the DNR folks were out in force covering no wake zones. I slipped by as they were handing out tickets. I was following a guy who was going my speed - he got picked up, but his wake was smaller than mine. I had more wake at 4 mph than the guy they pulled over. In this pic, my boat is entering our marina at about 2.5mph. I can't run at that speed in the channel if tides are going out when I am leaving - not enough control or water passing under the stern - especially when windy. So the question is - what does Idle Speed mean?
Generally speaking it's the speed no greater than is necessary to maintain steerage and headway. Weather conditions dictate how that is achieved as you mention. Calm conditions I can putter around in 'low idle' (400RPM) with my Detroits without a problem but in windy conditions I often have to be in normal idle (750RPM) and bump in and out of gear to maintain steerage but not kick up a wake that may be considered 'excessive'.
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Old 07-20-2020, 04:05 PM   #3
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Florida regulations....


""Idle Speed - No Wake" Zone: A vessel must operate at a speed no greater than is necessary to maintain steerage and headway. The vessel should not produce any wake at this speed. It is unlawful to operate any motorboat greater than no wake speed in areas marked with regulatory "Idle Speed, No Wake" waterway markers."


Based on the picture I could see where they are saying slightly faster than no wake...I also have to throw the BS flag if you were gong less than 5 knots. That's more than ridiculous and an overzealous LEO. If that wake is doing any harm or going 5 knots even in a busy area...there is no harm being done.
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Old 07-20-2020, 04:05 PM   #4
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Yup, look at your wake and if you see any curling and white water then you are going way too fast. Some areas don’t want to even see that. I also have to shift into neutral sometimes to go slower. My idle is about 4 mph and generally that is no wake.
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Old 07-20-2020, 04:08 PM   #5
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A no wake zone can never force you to run slower than you can maintain reasonable control, even if that speed produces some wake. I'll typically run anywhere from idle (just under 4 kts) to about 5 kts depending on what's around me, any posted speed limits, wind, other traffic, etc.

If I'm bumping in and out of gear to go slower than idle, it's only to avoid running over a slow-moving boat in front of me that I can't safely pass. Steering becomes too sluggish once I'm out of gear and it starts to be far more work to maintain course in any kind of wind, so even if someone thinks the tiny hint of a ripple from 4 kts is too much (along with some churned water behind the transom), that's too bad for them.
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Old 07-20-2020, 04:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
Florida regulations....


""Idle Speed - No Wake" Zone: A vessel must operate at a speed no greater than is necessary to maintain steerage and headway. The vessel should not produce any wake at this speed. It is unlawful to operate any motorboat greater than no wake speed in areas marked with regulatory "Idle Speed, No Wake" waterway markers."
Washington State:

---snip---
“No wake” is defined as “The slowest possible speed required in order
to maintain steerage and headway.”

In Washington, it is unlawful to operate at greater than ‘no wake’ speed
when around gas docks, marinas, boat ramps, and people in the water
even if not marked by a regulatory marker.

You may be held responsible for damage caused by vessel wake
or wash resulting from negligent or careless operation of a vessel.
---snip---
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Old 07-20-2020, 07:22 PM   #7
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I generally run 4 1/2 to 5 knots and have never been bothered. And I often get passed and have never seen those get hassled either.
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Old 07-20-2020, 07:37 PM   #8
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I generally run 4 1/2 to 5 knots and have never been bothered. And I often get passed and have never seen those get hassled either.
I run my 40 footer at 6.3 knots and never had one complaint or issue unless the person was REAL close aboard . Usually if I am going to ge close, I slow to 5 knots and then never had a complaint in 20, 000 miles of ACIW.
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Old 07-20-2020, 09:30 PM   #9
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My idle speed is 4.5kn . When necessary there is always N
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Old 07-20-2020, 09:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tozz View Post
Washington State:

---snip---
“No wake” is defined as “The slowest possible speed required in order
to maintain steerage and headway.”

In Washington, it is unlawful to operate at greater than ‘no wake’ speed
when around gas docks, marinas, boat ramps, and people in the water
even if not marked by a regulatory marker.

You may be held responsible for damage caused by vessel wake
or wash resulting from negligent or careless operation of a vessel.
---snip---
If anyone was enforcing that in Swinomish Channel, the tribal boys would never catch any crab!
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Old 07-20-2020, 10:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
Florida regulations....


""Idle Speed - No Wake" Zone: A vessel must operate at a speed no greater than is necessary to maintain steerage and headway. The vessel should not produce any wake at this speed. It is unlawful to operate any motorboat greater than no wake speed in areas marked with regulatory "Idle Speed, No Wake" waterway markers."
Isn’t the key word here “regulatory”? Lots of folks put up no wake signs but they’re not legally enforceable, are they?
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Old 07-20-2020, 10:14 PM   #12
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Once, I was going 6 mph in a 6 mph zone, but got busted because my wake was excessive.

Any boat moving through the water is going to make a wake, can't be helped, there is always some wake if your boat is moving relative to the water. You can leave a wake if you are anchored in a fast current. Even a completely submerged submarine will leave a wake if it is close enough to the surface.

No wake zones should be labeled "Minimum Wake". In some places they are. The speed in my boat that gives minimum wake speed but allows reasonable control is about 4.3 mph.
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Old 07-20-2020, 10:52 PM   #13
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Isn’t the key word here “regulatory”? Lots of folks put up no wake signs but they’re not legally enforceable, are they?
Our entire river is a legal no wake zone. Usually the idiots are below wakeless speed by the time they get to our house because people down river have yelled at them. But there a few special ones that don’t need to obey the laws. Our river has gone up in water depth 47” since 2016. That is Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. It is coming over many peoples seawalls up and down the river. Our sheriffs office has come out and said they will cite people making a wake if we get a clear photo of the boat with the MC numbers and the wake visible. We are lucky that our seawall is still about 2’ above the water.
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Old 07-21-2020, 12:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by ssobol View Post
..Any boat moving through the water is going to make a wake, can't be helped, there is always some wake if your boat is moving relative to the water....
No wake zones should be labeled "Minimum Wake". In some places they are....
Puts in words something I`ve long thought. "No Wake" is impossible in a moving boat, "Minimum Wake" gets it.
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Old 07-21-2020, 03:54 AM   #15
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Puts in words something I`ve long thought. "No Wake" is impossible in a moving boat, "Minimum Wake" gets it.
It depends on your boat. A full displacement boat tends to have no wake until close to "hull speed".

Here's what I stir up at about 5 knots.
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Old 07-21-2020, 06:47 AM   #16
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Yes, very true for us. This wake is at 2400 rpm ( 2600 rpm WOT ) 7.25 mph, really a disappointment for many jet skiers who intercept us to jump our wake.
Best vhf wake talk heard, Florida Marine Patrol “ slow down you are in a no wake zone” reply I have both my engines at idle speed, MP then shut down one engine !
To answer OP, idle speed is probable a fast walk or about 2 mph. The idea is no damaging wakes or manatees.
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Old 07-21-2020, 08:27 AM   #17
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Best vhf wake talk heard, Florida Marine Patrol “ slow down you are in a no wake zone” reply I have both my engines at idle speed, MP then shut down one engine !
I've heard stuff like that as well. As far as I'm concerned, the correct response is "no", as taking one engine out of gear at idle on most boats that idle along that quickly hurts maneuverability pretty badly and may not be safe.

Of course, I was once coming into the channel here at just under 5 kts (so less than the 6 mph speed limit) creating a slight ripple behind me and had a guy in a small fishing boat doing probably 2 kts yell up to me "slow down, you're going way too fast!" I don't think he had any understanding that going that slow means being in neutral with just an occasional bump forward and that steering at that speed without accelerating can involve decent bursts of power.
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Old 07-21-2020, 08:43 AM   #18
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It is often confusing for someone watching the boat, and not the wake itself. LEO's should know better, IMHO.

We have often been yelled at for "going too fast" by people who just see a 50,000lb boat going by at 6-7knots. It *LOOKS* like there should be a big wake.

In fact, there is not. Here is what our wake looks like at SEVEN knots - no curl, not really anything, even just 75ft out from the boat.

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Old 07-21-2020, 08:44 AM   #19
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I'd consider that last video to be the absolute upper limit of what's ok in a no wake zone. And depending on what's around the boat, it might be a bit too much.

What throws a lot of people off is the boat length effect. No wake speed for a 60 footer is a lot faster than for a jetski, for example.
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Old 07-21-2020, 08:53 AM   #20
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I'd consider that last video to be the absolute upper limit of what's ok in a no wake zone. And depending on what's around the boat, it might be a bit too much.

What throws a lot of people off is the boat length effect. No wake speed for a 60 footer is a lot faster than for a jetski, for example.
Sorry - didn't mean that to be acceptable in a NO WAKE zone. There was no "zone" where we took the video. Would never be going that fast in a NO WAKE area. Just highlighting the visual oddity/deception that occurs with some displacement boats.
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