September 1, 2015

The biggest concern that I have with the boating public is the lack of responsibility. What does that mean? When you sit behind the wheel of a boat, or on a personal watercraft or in front of the tiller of a sailboat, or in other words at the helm you are the skipper or the captain of that vessel no matter what size, shape or configuration that it is. That means that you have taken a position of responsibility. Just because you cannot see a traffic pattern, a white line, a yellow line or a stop and go signal it does not give you the right to zigzag all over the waterway, go in circles, go the wrong direction, or go as fast as you want. There are rules and regulations that need to be understood.

RULE 2 – RESPONSIBILITY: Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seaman, or the special circumstances of the case. NAVIGATION RULES COMDTINST M16672.2D

What the heck is that? This is the book that tells you what is right and what is wrong. The average boater, I am sure, doesn’t even understand that there is such a document. It is available anywhere books are sold and online. And by the way, Arizona has its own set of laws. Now boating is not just the wild frontier that you can do whatever comes to mind, because there are laws they must be obeyed, this is taking responsibility for your actions.

A couple of weeks ago while patrolling Saguaro Lake with the Coast Guard Auxiliary; I had a chance to talk to a very nice competent young man that was nine years old. What was he doing? He was riding a personal watercraft alone. This watercraft was a 200+ horse power machine capable of doing 60-70 mph. Do you think that the average nine year old has the knowledge to understand all of the rules and regulations of maritime law or having the capabilities of handling such a high horse power machine? Most adult boaters don’t understand maritime rules and regulations. When confronting the young man’s parents, they had no idea they were doing anything wrong, they stated they do it all the time. It’s a shame more people don’t get a proper or even basic boating education to understand the rules of boating. There is so much enjoyment, such relaxation; fun with the family to be had on the water, but each and every one of us has to be responsible. Does anyone know the age limit for riding a personal watercraft in Arizona? If you would like to know the answer to this question, look it up, be responsible, don’t put your child or someone else’s child or family in danger, because you didn’t know.

So let’s hear it for responsibility, seek out and take a boating class, be a responsible skipper, understand and learn the maritime laws of our state. If you do this, it will make your boating safer and much more enjoyable; make it a family event of learning and having fun together. See you on the water.

Captain Dave


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